"EASY FAITH" ?
One of the most (if not the most) important things in life is the Gospel message – and we need to get it right. Well-meaning and sincere believers may (inadvertently, ignorantly or otherwise) misstate the very Gospel message they are attempting to communicate and by so doing may in fact be hindering the accomplishment of the great commission that they are attempting to follow - to make disciples. In some cases we may be blinded by “tradition”; or perhaps we have just become so familiar with certain terminology that the meaning of statements is not questioned nor thought out carefully to ensure that our presentation of the Gospel is clear AND accurate. There may be confusion, at best, and danger, at worst, in using phrases such as: "Ask Jesus into your heart (or life)", "Invite Jesus into your heart (or life)", "Receive Jesus into your heart (or life)". We need to evaluate the phrases above in light of the Scriptures– does the terminology fit?, is it compatible?, is it appropriate?, is it acceptable?, is it true?, does it REALLY communicate what God says in the Scriptures?
The Gospel is a message (good news!). That message requires a response. The response desired by God is faith (belief) - not praying a prayer, not walking down an aisle, not kneeling at an “altar”, not speaking in tongues, not “doing” what the phrases above say. Abraham believed God – and it was counted unto him for righteousness. (Romans 4:3; Galatians 3:6; James 2:23) (Acts 13:39; Acts 15:7; Acts 16:31; Rom. 3:21-22; Rom. 4:21-24).
To put it another way, in John’s gospel account he records Jesus’ dialogue in which He told Nicodemus “you must be born again” and in John’s first epistle (5:1) he wrote: “Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God”! We have heard it said repeatedly that if you don’t know the time and the place, you are not saved. If we are not careful, we, as much as any other group of “believers”, can come to trust in a salvation “experience” we had (or think we had) and ignore whether or not we are fully believing, trusting, resting, following - now. Salvation is by grace, through faith. Faith for some people comes about in a manner like Saul experienced on the road to Damascus (Acts 9). But not every believer traveled the Damascus road and had Saul’s “experience”. Those who have had such an experience may be inclined to believe that without having such an experience a person cannot be “saved”. We contend that it was NOT the “experience” that changed Saul’s life. What made the difference was that he saw, he heard, he understood, he believed - that Jesus, Whom he was persecuting, was the very God he believed he was serving. God decided to use that particular experience at that particular time in that particular person’s life. Some (not all) believers can relate to Saul’s “experience”. For others, God was not in the earthquake, not in the wind, but in the still small voice (1 Kings 19:11-12). For many, faith came by hearing and hearing by the word of God (just like the Bible says in Romans 10). The Seed of the Word was planted and it grew - these people then grew in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus.
The exact “moment” of the new birth for some (perhaps many), is as unknown to them as is the moment of their physical birth – they know they are physically alive, but they don’t remember a thing about being born in the hospital. Can a person know that he/she is spiritually alive and not "know for certain" the day and hour that "it" occurred?
At some point in a person's life he must come to understand (or at least, accept) God’s requirement of sacrifice for sin. Only one sacrifice could be made that would effectually take away the sins of the whole world, including yours! (John 1:29; Hebrews 1:3; Isaiah 53:12; 1 Peter 2:24; 2 Cor. 5:21; 1 Cor. 5:21; Heb 9:26; 1 John 3:5). Since the wages of sin is death, sacrifices are insufficient, and even YOUR own death is not sufficient to take away your sin, only a worthy Substitute’s death is adequate – and there is only One perfect Lamb Whose sacrifice is worthy to be accepted by God as satisfaction for your sin, and for mine! What grace!
At some point in a person's life he must come to understand (or at least, accept) God’s requirement for righteousness. God requires it. We alI lack it. God devised a way whereby He can impute it to us. What grace! (Romans 3:10, 21-22; Romans 4:3; Romans 10:10).
What about repentance? The repentance that is necessary first is repentance from the sin of unbelief (not believing God) to faith (believing God) (Mark 1:15; Acts 26:20). There will always be things in our lives to be repented of. The prophets spoke to Israel often about their need for repentance (e.g. Ezekiel 18:30-31). The angel of the Lord instructed John to write letters to the 7 churches in Asia (Rev. 2 & 3) in which they are called to repentance. But those repentances must necessarily occur AFTER that initial repentance whereby we turn from our unbelief and turn to God in faith/belief. I believe God! Do you?
At some point in a person's life he must become convinced that (a) his sin separates him from God, (b) a sacrifice that he could not offer was required, (c) Jesus Christ was that sacrifice.
Have YOU understood God's requirement for sacrifice, for righteousness, for repentance? Have you "applied the blood" (figuratively - see Exodus 12) to the lintel and doorpost of your life? Are you presently trusting fully in Christ’s finished work on the cross of Calvary as the sole basis for having been reconciled to God and having become a part of His family (Gal. 3:26)? Is your faith in God Who has revealed Himself in His Word? Do you believe that Jesus is the Christ!
Are you trusting in some “experience” that you may have had? Are you trusting in any thing that you may have “done”, such as praying a prayer, walking down an aisle, participating in some religious ceremony, or in any “good” that you may have done? Anyone can say he had an experience. Which is more important – to say that at one point in your past you had an “experience” and continually look back to that experience; or to know that you are presently, continually believing Him, and trusting Him?
Do you know for certain that you are spiritually alive (Eph. 2:1-10) and can you say emphatically as Paul wrote to Timothy (2 Tim. 1:12) "I know Whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day!"?
If not, we would be pleased to try to help you. You can contact us.
For several additional articles related to this, please click on Easy-Believism
In "That Incredible Christian", A.W. Tozer wrote, in "The Inadequacy of "Instant Christianity'":
"But the trouble is that we tend to put our trust in our experiences and as a consequence misread the entire New Testament. We are constantly being exhorted to make the decision, to settle the mater now, to get the whole thing taken care of at once - and those who exhort us are right in doing so. There are decisions that can be and should be made once and for all. There are personal matters that can be settled instantaneously by a determined act of the will in response to Bible-grounded faith. No one would want to deny this; certainly not I. The question before us is, Just how much can be accomplished in that one act of faith? How much yet remains to be done and how far can a single decision take us? Instant Christianity tends to make the faith act terminal and so smothers the desire for spiritual advance. It fails to understand the true nature of the Christian life, which is not static but dynamic and expanding. It overlooks the fact that a new Christian is a living organism as certainly as a new baby is, and must have nourishment and exercise to assure normal growth. It does not consider that the act of faith in Christ sets up a personal relationship between two intelligent moral beings, God and the reconciled man, and no single encounter between God and a creature made in His image could ever be sufficient to establish an intimate friendship between them." (emphasis added)
We would like to interject the following scripture, after which we continue with Tozer...
Thus says the LORD: “Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, Let not the mighty man glory in his might, Nor let the rich man glory in his riches; But let him who glories glory in this, That he understands and knows Me, That I am the LORD, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight,” says the LORD. (Jer. 9:23-24 NKJV)
"Undue preoccupation with the initial act of believing has created in some a psychology of contentment, or at least of non-expectation. To many it has imparted a mood of disappointment with the Christian faith. God seems too far away, the world is too near, and the flesh too powerful to resist. Others are glad to accept the assurance of automatic blessedness. It relieves them of the need to watch and fight and pray, and sees them free to enjoy this world while waiting for the next. Instant Christianity is twentieth-century orthodoxy. I wonder whether the man who wrote Philippians 3:7-16 would recognize it as the faith for which he finally died. I am afraid he would not."
We include, for your reference, the passage to which Tozer refers above - Philippians 3:7-16
"But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you. Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind."