Tuesday March 20, 2012
Today’s Topic: I Spoke Up!
Today’s Text: Isaiah 62:1 (NIV) For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, for Jerusalem’s sake I will not remain quiet, till her righteousness shines out like the dawn, her salvation like a blazing torch.
I love it when God puts to the test what He is teaching me. With permission to share this, here’s what happened. It’s a little long, but eternally worth the time you will spend to read it.
Last Sunday after church, a young lady from our church came by to give me a hug after the service. I have been praying for this teenager for a couple of years now. Occasionally I will ask her about her readiness to make a commitment to Christ, and I get a polite but cold response. The Holy Spirit directed me to ask her again on Sunday, and to put it into the context of the upcoming baptism service planned for this week.
As I looked in her eyes I challenged her again to consider her commitment to Christ, and she said she would, and that she would contact me later in the week. Now I really started praying.
Yesterday was this girl’s 16th birthday, and I sent her a note of congratulations. Last night at 8:30 my phone buzzed that I had a text message. It was her. She said this – “Hey Pastor John…I’ve been thinking about the baptism on Sunday n I wanna do it.” My heart leapt into my throat with excitement. I quickly texted her back and asked if I could call her, and she said yes.
At this point many pastors and even many parents would simply assume that the person is saved and ready for baptism or they wouldn’t ask for it, but that is completely and deceptively wrong! Am I ever glad I didn’t do that last night. I spoke up, and it resulted in an eternal transaction taking place. With absolutely no offense intended to this young lady, I have her permission to share the context of our conversation.
As we talked I discovered something very significant – she didn’t really understand the Gospel. I have been aware of the false Gospel being promoted in churches all over the world for a long time and have been trying to warn people about it, but when someone in my own church is not understanding salvation even though the truth is preached I realized the depth of the deception that is going on in our so called Christian community.
I asked her when she got saved, and she didn’t know what that meant. I asked her about her commitment to Christ, and she said she wanted to try harder to change her life. God was working on her heart, but she was putting everything into the context of her efforts rather than her unworthiness resulting in faith in Christ’s efforts on our behalf. Just as many others are, she had been deceived into thinking that knowing about God and following God are our responsibility, and if we work at it hard enough we will be successful and He will save us. HOW FALSE THIS IS! If you believe this, you are still lost. I’m only speaking up because I love you.
I took her back to the Garden of Eden and God’s original creation. I showed her how man sinned and rejected total intimacy with God and placed their trust in their own wisdom and understanding. With every new foundation of truth I asked her if she understood, and the Holy Spirit was opening her eyes and her heart as she said yes!
I asked her if there was anything in her of worth that she could offer to God as payment for her sin, and she said no. I proceeded to tell her that God so loves us that He wants to save us. So I asked her what God had given us so that our sins could be forgiven. She said “Baptism.” Ouch. My heart was pierced with the deception of the Gospel again. I simply said, that wasn’t right, and I asked the question again. This time she said, “Communion.” The knife twisted again in my heart. How many people all over the world are being led directly to an eternity in Hell because they believe that an activity of man can bring them forgiveness? It breaks my heart to think of it.
When I told her again that her answer was incorrect, I could hear the nervousness in her voice. I reassured her that this was all necessary so she would really know the truth and be saved, and we continued. I began quoting John 3:16 to her – For so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son…and I stopped. She immediately finished quoting the verse for me. I asked her if it said that whoever is baptized shall have eternal life, and she of course said no. I did the same with communion, and she again said no. I emphasized the truth to her that whoever believes on Him – Jesus Christ and His work on the cross – shall have everlasting life. The light of truth was being turned on for her.
I said very simply to her that there were three things she needed to believe:
- That she is a sinner and incapable of ever doing enough to earn her salvation from sin. (See Romans 3:23 and Titus 3:3-7)
- That God sent Jesus to the earth to completely pay the price for our sin by becoming our sin and dying voluntarily on the cross, and that God proved His satisfaction with the sacrifice by raising Jesus from the dead and exalting Him to the right hand of God in Heaven, guaranteeing eternal life those who believe in Him. (Hebrews 10:11 – But when [Jesus] had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God.)
- That all she needs to do is believe in her heart that Jesus died and was resurrected from the dead for her sins, and confess with her mouth that Jesus is Lord, she will be saved. (Romans 10:9-10) In that moment of belief and confession, your sins will be forgiven and you will be saved for all eternity.
I asked her if she was ready to do that and she said yes. YES!!! What a moment. We prayed and she confessed her need of forgiveness. She confessed that Jesus had died for her sins. She confessed she could do no works to earn salvation. She accepted God’s forgives and surrendered her life to Jesus Christ and asked Him to change her from the inside out. Hallelujah, it is finished! Her debt was paid by Jesus. She experienced another birthday on her birthday!
Now she will be baptized on Sunday as a believer, not to earn anything. She will be baptized as an expression of her personal faith in Jesus Christ, not as a means of entering into faith. She will be baptized because she already has sufficient grace for salvation, not to receive more grace.
That is the Gospel. Don’t be deceived any longer. That is the one and only truth of Scripture, and until I die I will rejoice in every opportunity to speak up about it.