Core Ideas of the Gospel of Jesus Christ

Posts tagged ‘what is eternal life’

It’s Not What you Know….

What you believe about Jesus Christ is vital.  If you believe he is obligated to reward your faith with riches, perfect health, and a Hollywood lifestyle, you will be bitterly disappointed.  If you imagine him angrily firing spiritual darts at sinful people 24/7, you will tend to be harsh and too critical of other people.  And if you are convinced Christ is so cool and chill that he doesn’t really care how anybody lives on a day to day basis, you will most likely be an enabler, quietly encouraging others to delay in seeking the Lord.

So please make no mistake: good theology is essential for healthy Christian living.  But sometimes we overlook the simple biblical truth that we are not saved by the facts we believe.  Over the years I’ve known at least a couple of miserable church members who were quite well versed in the Bible.  Both could quote Bible verses, but both were angry, critical, caustic individuals who hated others because of church politics.  Their theology sounded right, but their lives made the Church of Jesus Christ look angry, corrupt, petty, unforgiving, and unloving.  They could quote the words of Jesus, but clearly knew nothing of his Spirit or his transforming power.  How does that happen?

In Mark 5:28 a woman who has been bleeding for 12 years comes to Jesus Christ for help.  She knows little about him- almost entirely what she’s heard from others.  She has concluded that if she simply touches the hem of his garment, she will be healed.  Such an outcome is promised in neither the Law nor the Prophets.  So it’s clear there’s a certain amount of superstition in what this suffering woman believes about Jesus Christ.  But the power of that amazing Messiah reverses her illness and instantly restores her to health.

In John 9:17 Christ heals a man who was born blind.  When the man is later asked his opinion about Christ, he replies, “I think he must be a prophet.”  That’s not true.  Christ is much more than a prophet- he is the long awaited Messiah.  But this healthy man will be able to unpack all that theology over years of faith and study.  When he first comes to Christ, he knows little more than the fact that he is a sinner and Jesus is a Savior.  That’s what he’s counting on.  The rest he will learn through the Spirit.

Sometimes we reach the strange conclusion that we are saved by the wonderful things we believe- about the people in the Bible, about the death of Christ, about the miracles of the New Testament.  We accept all those things as facts, but – needless to say- Satan knows all those things are true.  Believing the facts about God hasn’t helped the Devil at all!  Why should it help you and me?  Being able to embody the truth of Christ only happens when I meet Jesus Christ and he sends His spirit into my life.

True faith, childlike faith, is about trusting Christ so completely that we must go after him.  I am so convinced that He is the Truth that I reach out to him, count on him, rise or fall by trusting him.  I became a believer when I was five years old.  All these years later, I have read the Bible through many times and have gained tons of insight into what God is like, what is true, and what is important for human life.  I have a fuller and more complete theology than I could ever have imagined when I was five years old, but I was just as saved then as I am today.

Ideas are powerful, but they’re not powerful enough to pay for your sins.  Only Jesus could do that.  When we put our faith in Him, he will lead us to all truth and wisdom (John 16:13.)   But when we first begin, it’s not about facts.  It’s about faith in a particular person.  A grain of that kind of faith even the size of a mustard seed can cast mountains into the sea and get sinners into the Kingdom of Heaven.  The faith isn’t that great but the Savior is.

Lift up the Cross!


A Steak Through the Heart

When people ask 21st Century Americans what it means to be a Christian, we typically respond with either methodology or by- products.  We talk about repentance, faith and commitment.  Or we describe the peace and joy that have come into our lives, or brag about having real friends for the first time.  Of course, all that is true.

But whenever I read about Jesus Christ in witnessing situations, he always cuts to the chase and gets supernatural really quick!  He jolted religious Nicodemus when he talked about being born again!  Being a literal kind of guy, Nic at Night wondered, “How am I supposed to get back into my mother’s womb, anyway?”  Sure, he was thrown off balance, but face it: he needed a wake up call!

The Samaritan woman lived a decadent life in a religious community.  She didn’t expect much from religious types because she’d heard it all before.  Then Jesus suggested that if she were to ask, he could give her living water that would quench her thirst forever.  The rich young ruler was more than comfortable with his family’s riches.  He came to Jesus looking for a little adventure; perhaps a chance to hit the road with this famous rabbi and his rugged disciples.  Jesus wasn’t interested in another traveling partner.  He advised, “Sell all your possessions, and give the money to the poor.  Then you will riches in heaven.”  Riches in Heaven?  The young man was so flummoxed that he couldn’t even continue this token conversation.  He walked away, disappointed but more self aware.

I am convinced that people in my generation need more supernatural truth and less conventional wisdom.  They are happy with their friends at work.  They can get a buzz from their beer.  They believe they can sit down by a lake and find true peace.  And all this talk about repenting and trusting  sounds like mumbo jumbo to people who don’t understand that they are souls rather than bodies; that life is full of risks and mysteries.

So I’ve become a lot more intentional in the answers I give about faith and Jesus Christ.  Christianity is about getting a chance to start life over.  It’s about allowing Jesus Christ to take control of my body.  It’s about finding the Gates of Heaven today and walking inside.  Following Jesus is like driving away from a busy McDonald’s and going instead to a first-class steak restaurant.  And after you order everything your heart desire’s, the server comes back and says his boss has covered your check.

When you’re fishing, you have to set the hook before you start reeling.  So I give people a sharp, supernatural line they can really bite into.  And when they reply, “What?  What are you talking about,” I patiently reel them toward the cross.

Lift up the Cross!

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