Let's continue from "Salvation is a Command"
THE INEFFECTIVENESS OF THE MODERN CHURCH
One of the great tragedies of modern day messages about salvation is that they don't stress the Lordship of Jesus. They simply stress "accepting" Jesus as your personal Savior. When I "accept Jesus" on the foundation of hearing a "man-centered" gospel I may call Him Lord, but I probably won't serve Him because He is simply my "personal Savior".
That is the same as getting married and saying that you "accept" your bride as your "personal dishwasher" or "personal lover" or "personal housekeeper" instead of as your equal partner for life. You cannot relegate Jesus to being anything that is "YOUR PERSONAL ANYTHING" -- He is your Lord and Master and as a byproduct of "THAT" relationship He is your Savior.
When He is my "personal Savior" I am still on the throne of my life and He is there to be my servant. To heal me, take care of my needs, bless me, etc. If I am still on the throne of my life there is a strong probability that I have not really encountered the living Lord Jesus. I have simply had an emotional experience in which I asked that my "sins" be forgiven and that did not fundamentally begin a transformation within me. I did not experience salvation, or being "born again".
In Matthew 7:13-14 Jesus said, "Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide, and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter by it. For the gate is small, and way is narrow that leads to life, and few are those who find it."
The narrow gate could be called repentance from the kingdom of darkness and yielding to the Lordship of Jesus and the wide gate could be all other options that are said to lead to salvation.
THIS IS THE PRIMARY REASON FOR SUCH A LACK OF POWER AND ZEAL IN THE CHURCH TODAY. OUR CONGREGATIONS ARE FILLED WITH COUNTERFEIT CONVERSIONS SIMPLY TO COUNT NUMBERS AT AN ALTER CALL AND SAY WE HAD xxxx NUMBER OF SOULS WON INTO THE CHURCH.
Charles Finney, a powerful evangelist from the last century, once said, "The quality of the conversion is determined by the content of the message." We need to proclaim the true gospel of the kingdom and the Lordship of Jesus Christ rather than the water-down version of the stuff we preach today. The reason we have so few true deliverances from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of God in our churches today is because we have inoculated the listeners with small doses of the gospel message and they have become immune to its truth and have become very "dull of hearing". They have not heard the unadulterated truth of the gospel of the kingdom of God being at hand.
The Church should be the most powerful organism on the earth because it has the life of God within it, but the people sitting in the pews don't know what they have. We seem to have a "rocking chair salvation" -- simply waiting on the rapture so we can go to the great retirement center in the sky. But the truth is we who have experienced true salvation have been saved to serve the King as His ambassadors on the earth, not simply go to heaven. Jesus didn't die to get us to heaven - He died to restore us to union with God and to multiply His effectiveness on the earth by multiplying His presence through every born again person that is in relationship with Him.
John 14:12 -- "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do shall he do also and greater works than these shall he do; because I go to the Father."
How can we do greater works than Jesus did? Think about it for a minute. Now, because we are in union with Him through covenant and the new birth, instead of one person doing these works there can be millions doing the works all over the world at the same time. That is definitely greater works and this is what we are to be doing as the Church - the body of Christ on the earth.
2 Corinthians 5:20 -- "Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, ..."
TRUE SALVATION REQUIRES OBEDIENCE TO THE KING
Luke 19:1-10 -- "And He entered and was passing through Jericho. And behold, there was a man called by the name of Zaccheus; and he was a chief tax gatherer, and he was rich. And he was trying to see who Jesus was, and he was unable because of the crowd, for he was small in stature. And he ran ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree in order to see Him, for He was about to pass through that way. And when Jesus came to the place, He looked up and said to him, 'Zaccheus, hurry and come down, for today I must stay at our house.' And he hurried down, and received Him gladly. And when they saw it, they all began to grumble, saying, 'He has gone to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.' And Zaccheus stopped and said to the Lord, 'Behold, Lord, half of my possessions I will give to the poor, and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will give back four times as much.' And Jesus said to him, 'Today, salvation has come to this house, because he, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man has come to seek and save that which was lost."
Jesus said, "Today, salvation has come to this house." When did Zaccheus receive salvation? There was no altar call, there was no presentation of the gospel, there was no sinner's prayer prayed, there were no Scriptures quoted, there was nothing that we commonly associate with the salvation experience. So what happened?
Answer: Zaccheus was saved when he obeyed Jesus and came down out of the tree. At that exact time we see by the Scripture that he placed himself under the Lordship of Jesus. The key to the salvation of Zaccheus was submitting to the command of Jesus and submitting to His Lordship.
Jesus said that Zaccheus was saved because he was a son of Abraham. What did that refer to? Let's look at the Scripture to explain this meaning.
Hebrews 11:8 -- "By faith Abraham, when he was called, OBEYED ..."
Matthew 4:18-22 we see the callings of Peter, Andrew, James, and John. Jesus issued a command to follow Him and these men immediately left what they were doing and followed Him. They simply obeyed His command.
Matthew 9:9 -- the calling of Matthew. Jesus commanded Mathew to follow Him and Matthew immediately rose from his job and followed Jesus. He obeyed the command of Jesus.
SALVATION IN NOT AN INVITATION -- IT IS A COMMAND
Mark 1:15 -- "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; REPENT AND BELIEVE THE GOSPEL."
This is a command to repent and believe the gospel of the kingdom. You will either obey it, or you won't. There are no other choices.
Luke 18:18-30 -- this is about the rich young ruler. Notice the Scripture calls him rich, young, and a ruler. This man was apparently very religious and was inquiring from Jesus what he needed to do to get eternal life, or salvation. Jesus apparently discerned that the man was very attached to his wealth. He told the young man there is one thing that you will need to do to receive what you're looking for -- give away his wealth. It was obvious that the wealth was more important to this man than his salvation for eternity. He would rather have this temporal security than eternal life. This young ruler could not give away his wealth because he was attached to it emotionally and he simply walked away from Jesus. I find it interesting that when the man walked away Jesus did not try to pursue him to get him to reconsider and come back. Jesus never changed His requirement. He simply let the man go because the man was not willing to obey.
Luke 9:57-62 -- in this passage of Scripture we see three different men came up to Jesus and said to Him, "I will follow you", but in all three situations there was something that prevented them from complete and immediate obedience to Jesus. There was something that they considered more important than a relationship with Jesus. He, again, let each of them go away from Him. He knew if they could not obey at first they would probably not obey in the future. When someone comes to Jesus and is confronted with who He really is there must be a complete submission to His Lordship to the fullest of our ability and knowledge at that moment. After all, who are we to tell the Supreme King of the universe that we cannot, or will not, do as required by Him!
Jesus, as Lord and King, does not give us an invitation - He gives us a command. We either obey, or disobey. Salvation is a command - "repent and believe". Reject the kingdom of darkness and submit to the kingdom of God. Because it is a command rather than an invitation there is punishment for disobeying the command.
Luke 13:3 & 5 -- "..., but unless you repent, you will likewise perish."
WHY IS THERE A PUNISHMENT FOR REJECTING REPENTANCE THAT LEADS TO SALVATION?
Hell was prepared as an eternal place of punishment and judgment for Satan and his followers, the fallen angels. It was never initially intended for humans. But because of the rebellion of Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden, all humanity fell under the rulership and dominion of sin and Satan in his kingdom of darkness. Why is the kingdom ruled by Satan called darkness? Because it is the absence of the light of God. Jesus said, "I am the light of the world, he who follows Me shall not walk in the darkness, but shall have the light of life." John 8:12.
And in 1 John 1:5-7 it reads "...God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the light as He Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin."
Because we are born into and live in the kingdom of darkness we are born with a nature that is self-centered and wants its own way. As we grow we develop more and more of the characteristics of the kingdom of darkness and that nature we have is a nature centered in "being my own boss", "being self - centered" - a nature that practices sin.
1 John 3:8 -- "The one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil.
John 3:19-20 -- "And this is the judgement, that the light is come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light; for their deeds were evil. For everone who doesevil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed."
Romans 3:23 -- "for all have sinned"
Romans 5:12 -- "Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned--"
With this situation plaguing humankind, God in His incredible love for His creation, had a plan to deliver humankind from the rulership of Satan and the punishment for sin. His plan was called salvation, or redemption. He offered to "redeem" us from under the judgment for our sin. But those who reject His offer of salvation because they love the darkness of Satan's kingdom rather than the light of God's kingdom will suffer the punishment that was reserved for the devil and his followers - eternal separation from the light of God in a place called hell.
Because God is just, He cannot simply punish someone for not accepting an invitation to participate in something. But because mankind was born into the kingdom of darkness and the dominion of sin there is already a sentence of death on everyone who has not been born again. That declaration of death took place in the Garden of Eden. The ONLY way to avoid that reality is to accept God's offer of restoration and redemption through the shed blood of Jesus and enter into His covenant in order to be restored to union with God. The Creator always has full authority over his creation.
We have the freedom to choose our response to commands that are given, but we do not have the freedom to to choose the consequences of the choices we make. For example: I have the freedom to jump off the top of a twenty story building because I simply don't believe in the concept of gravity. But once I make the decision to jump I can no longer choose the outcome. I will fall and die physically, but it was my choice -- I simply chose poorly.
Matthew 7:24-27 -- "Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine, and acts upon them, may be compared to a wise man, who built his house upon the rock. And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and burst against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded upon the rock. And everyone who hears these words of Mine, and does not act upon them, will be like a foolish man, who built his house upon the sand. And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, andburst against that house; and it fell, and great was its fall."
We have a choice concerning our salvation, but it is a command, not an invitation. We either choose to obey and repent, or we choose to disobey and remain in the kingdom of darkness under the rulership of Satan. There are no other choices, no matter what you may have been told.
Before we encounter Jesus we rule our own life under the influence of the kingdom of darkness, we are the king on the throne of our own life, we are lost and blind in the darkness.
2 Corinthians 4:3-4 -- "And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving, that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God."
But when we meet Jesus, the Creator of all and the Supreme King of the universe and He commands us to repent and believe that His kingdom is at hand, we must reject the kingdom of darkness, submit to His Lordship, and begin to learn about our new life in His kingdom. We become servants of the King in His kingdom in order to bring about His purposes for our lives and for His kingdom. In "EXCHANGE", He saves us and makes us members of His family with all of the benefits included in being in that position.
From that moment of our salvation we become co-laborers together with Him doing His will so that His kingdom's influence is spread throughout the entire earth. Because we are yoked with Him we no longer simply go through life doing our own independent thing. That is not covenant.
1 John 2:3-6 -- And by this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. The one who says, 'I have come to know Him,' and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him; the one who says He abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked."Matthew 6:33 -- "Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven."
His will being done on the earth is not something to be done in the future -- it is to be done TODAY and forevermore!!!! Part of His will being done is to tell others that the kingdom of God is at hand so everyone has the opportunity to repent and experience the joy of entering union with the mighty God.
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"Declaring the New Covenant and that the kingdom of God is at hand"
Rob Board Ministries
Christiansburg, Virginia 24073