Do We Love Jesus?
During a very confrontational conversation with the religious leaders in Israel, Jesus said to them, "If God were your Father, you would love Me..." (John 8:42) As Christians, it is crucial at times to evaluate our Christianity down to the core of who we are.
"Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you—unless indeed you fail the test?" (2 Corinthians 13:5)
I understand that a Christian person does not walk in sinless perfection, but for this reason, many people think they are in the kingdom when they are not. During the early portion of the nineteenth-century, evangelists began to call people to Christ in a way not used before that time. Salvation as taught began to became dependent upon the choice of men as if God were merely a helpless bystander. Such teaching is heresy. I say these things and committed that sin, however, not in the depths of my heart. My head was confusing what my heart knew to be true.
In truth, since the day of Pentecost, men understood that salvation meant heart-felt repentance and separation to Christ alone, and entirely dependent upon God. "Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Brethren, what shall we do?" Peter said to them, "Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. "For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself." And with many other words, he solemnly testified and kept on exhorting them, saying, "Be saved from this perverse generation!" (Acts 2:37-40)
First, Peter preached with power from God. It was not oratory or his great learning that allowed him to see 3,000 souls saved on a single day - it was his connection with God.
Second, as the account records, Peter did not solicit conviction for sins from the people by asking for it; the people were pierced to the heart after hearing about what they did to Jesus. They said to Peter, "Brethren, what shall we do?"
Third, Peter preached, but it was a unified effort among all the Apostles that brought conviction of sin, "and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles..."
Fourth, the first word of response from Peter was repent. Turning from sinful behavior is always the first and primary element in salvation. The person convicted of sin never focuses on how good he wants his life to be but how holy.
Fifth, the second element in salvation is baptism. No, not water baptism but spiritual baptism. Water baptism symbolizes death and the newness of life in the believer. Therefore, Peter kept exhorting the people, "Be saved from this perverse generation!" Such newness of life is a process until our union with Christ at death, but it must be evident by walking away from the world and loving it no more.
Sixth, Godly evangelism exhorts identification with Jesus Christ is an act of God and not men. "...be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins..." A spiritual baptism is an act of God separating His people from all the rest of the world. Be baptized is passive; it is something done to the subject, not something he does for himself. It is good to make this reality clear from the start.
Seventh, It is the act of God that forgives sins, His plan, His means (His Son), and His decision. "...as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself. There is a general call that goes to all who hear it, and there is a specific call to those chosen for salvation. Many are called, Jesus said, but few are chosen.
Eight, the need for salvation is universal. "For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off..." The promises were for Israel and not the Gentiles. Paul, writing to the Ephesian believers and Gentiles, said they were formerly, "...strangers to the covenants of promise..." in contrast to the nation of Israel. Then, speaking about Jesus said, "And He came and preached peace to you who were far away, AND PEACE TO THOSE WHO WERE NEAR;" (Ephesians 2:17) Israel is understood in the Old Testament to be the chosen people, and they were for God's ordained purposes. One purpose is to reveal that God is no respecter of persons and that all have sinned and come short of God's glory. God used Israel to show separation from the world, give the law, the covenants, promises, prophecies, the scriptures, and Christ. Nevertheless, salvation is according to individual choice by God and not corporate inclusion.
Nine, saved people receive the gift of all gifts - God's presence through the indwelling Holy Spirit; "And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." Apart from God's presence Christianity is nothing more than an intellectual or emotional experience. Without receiving the Holy Spirit, Christianity is a false religion forbidden by God's law, "You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain." (Exodus 20:7)
Ten, Spirit-filled Christians speak to the lost solemnly or with a high level of motivation (the eternal state of the lost) and involvement; the Apostles were not giving a lecture, a scholarly instruction from a professor's podium. They were crying for the souls of the lost. "And with many other words, he solemnly testified and kept on exhorting them..."
THOUGHTS AND QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION
In your Christianity, could you say that you are highly motivated to separate from the philosophies and practices of the world?
Do you possess a holy desire to depend upon God to live a holy life? Let us define dependent as prayerful. Is your prayer life more than seven minutes a day. Does your prayer life frequently involve praise, confession, repentance from current sins, and faith in restoration to God? Do you pray supplications of crying and empathy for the lost?
The need for revival is ongoing throughout the Church age. Do you pray for revival? Do you properly understand revival? THE GREAT AWAKENING is an example of Church revival.
Do you believe that Jesus Christ is coming back, there will be a seven-year period of time that will bring much Martyrdom by men and destruction to the earth by God?
People who believe in the second coming of Christ and who are separated from worldliness desire His return and pray for it.
People who believe great suffering is coming upon the earth pray much for their own steadfastness.
If we are not enthusiastically looking for Christ's return, we should seriously question our love for Jesus Christ.
As Christians, we should question our love for God.
"If God were your Father, you would love Me..." (John 8:42)