by Tad Lindley
There are some advances in technology I thank God for. The chainsaw sure saves a lot of sweat and time. The outboard motor sure beats rowing. The telephone is much better than waiting around for a letter. We like things that make life easier.
Easier not always better
Many of these devices have saved us time, but isolated us. When the Midwest had blackouts, my brother described an unusual scene. Unable to watch television in the comfort of air conditioning, people literally went for walks and began to play outside. People crawled out of the shells of convenience and became neighbors again. It is what it must have been like before these time-saving devices began to eat up so much of our time.
An easier, softer salvation
This idea of the easier softer way has spread into the realm of man’s search for salvation. Reliable sources inform us that there are now drive-in churches. The faithful can “Amen” the preacher by flashing their head lights.
Personal savior not in the Bible
In the search for the softer easier way, the very message of salvation itself has been altered as to be unrecognizable. Today, many preach that in order to be saved all we need to do is “accept the Lord Jesus Christ as our personal savior”. You will not find those words anywhere in the Bible. You will find “personal treasure”, “personal servant”, “personal adviser”, “personal vow”, and “personal attendants”. But in the nine different English translations I searched, there is no such thing as a “personal savior”.
Who is supposed to accept who?
You won’t find it anywhere in the Bible that we have to accept Jesus. The nearest the Bible comes to acceptance, is that He will accept us. …he that cometh to me, I will in no wise cast out. (John 6:37) We are also taught to make our bodies acceptable to Him: I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. (Romans 12:1)
So where does this message of salvation through accepting Jesus Christ as our personal savior come from? The closest scripture to the idea of us accepting Jesus is found in John 1:11-12, He came unto his own, but his own received him not. But as many as received him gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them which believe on his name. This scripture is John’s brief overview of the life of Jesus; it is not instruction for salvation.
What does the Bible tell us is necessary for salvation?
Peter preached on the day of Pentecost, Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of your sins and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost (Acts 2:38). Jesus told the crowds, Except ye repent ye shall all likewise perish (Luke 13:3,5). John the Baptist called for the people to bring forth fruits meet for repentance (Matthew 3:8). Imagine that, these preachers were actually commanding people to change. Didn’t they realize that people would be scared away and that they would be labeled as control freaks and bigots?
B. Baptism in Jesus Name
John the Baptist was baptizing in repentance. Jesus preached baptism as essential for salvation when he said, Whosoever believeth and is baptized shall be saved, whosoever believeth not shall be damned (Mark 16:16). At Cornelius’ house, after they received the Holy Ghost speaking in other tongues, Peter commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. (Acts 10:48) That type of honest Biblical preaching just doesn’t fly in today’s world though. People are looking to take the blood and gore out of the gospel, and the cross out of daily living.
C. Receive the Holy Ghost
John the Baptist told the people that Jesus would baptize with the Holy Ghost and fire (Matthew 3:11). The Apostle John wrote, As many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God (John 1:12). Jesus told his disciples, “You shall receive power after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you”. The Bible also tells us that the Holy Ghost is essential for Jesus acceptance of us: You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ. (Romans 8:9 NIV)
There is no easier, softer way to be saved
It’s hard preaching, but for the person who has accepted Jesus as their personal savior and wondered, “Is there more than this?” The Biblical answer is yes there is!
Tad Lindley is a minister at the United Pentecostal Church in Bethel, Alaska.