Thursday, January 27, 2011

Four Key Elements: Biblical Salvation (Part 2)

What takes place when someone finally responds to the gospel? Do we ask for people to come forward and “pray a prayer” in a meeting? What response do we see people make to the gospel in the New Testament? We must reclaim not only the correct doctrine of salvation, we must also restore the experience of salvation as revealed in scripture.

The Gospel According to Peter

Speaking the first message following the resurrection of Jesus, Peter preaches about Jesus and God’s ageless plan (Acts 2:36-41). The people listening ask, “What shall we do? He gives the answer in verse 38: “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

Peter’s answer to the crowd includes four key elements:

  1. REPENTANCE: Turn away from what you’ve done wrong.
  2. FAITH: Believe in Jesus for forgiveness of sins.
  3. WATER BAPTISM: Be baptized in water to show you have faith in Jesus.
  4. BAPTISM IN THE SPIRIT: Receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

The Book of Acts

Throughout the book of Acts these four elements are always there. Here are a few examples…

Acts 8: 9-17 - Samaria

  1. The people turn from following an occult magician (v.9-13) – Repentance
  2. The people believed in Jesus (v.12) – Faith
  3. The people were baptized in water (v.12) – Baptism in Water
  4. The people received the gift of the Holy Spirit (v.15,17) – Baptism in the Spirit.

Acts 9: 17-18 – Paul’s Conversion

Paul repented (turned from) his old evil ways and believed in Jesus (v.1-6). Here he is filled with the Holy Spirit and baptized in water.

Acts 19:1-7 - Ephesus

This is the start of the church in the city of Ephesus. When Paul visits the city, he finds some God-fearing people but is concerned that something is missing. He asked them, “Have you received the Holy Spirit since you believed?” (v.2). Paul explains Jesus to these disciples of John. They evidently believed and are baptized as a result of believing in Jesus (vs. 4-5). Their baptism with Paul was not actually them being “re-baptized” as Christians since their first baptism was John the Baptist’s baptism and did not involve faith in Jesus for forgiveness of sin. After their water baptism, Paul laid hands upon them to receive the Holy Spirit and they were filled and spoke with tongues (v.6).

The salvation experience of the early church was a rich encounter as people responded to the gospel with an active faith! May we seek for the people we meet in our communities to undergo this great salvation experience themselves.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Radical Gospel: Biblical Salvation (Part 1)

In order to lead people to salvation in Jesus, we must first understand the radical nature of the gospel. It is vital to not only get the gospel out but to get the gospel right. I believe something is drastically wrong with the way we have presented and practiced the gospel. The gospel is reduced from its radical nature.

A bullet point model of salvation is most common. It has become “say this prayer so you will go to heaven.” We then warehouse people until they die. Discipleship becomes “optional”.

The Gospel According to Jesus

Mark 1:14-15 “The time has come. The Kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe this good news.”

First and foremost, Jesus’ gospel is about God and not about us. The true gospel is not a consumer item we acquire, securing us for a blissful “happy-ever-after” eternity. It is about a present reality through the person of Jesus. Jesus’ gospel was about the kingdom of God.

To enter God’s kingdom, we first repent. We examine our whole way of doing life.

Second, we believe, placing our confidence in Jesus and the gospel. We act and live as if we actually trust it is true (Matthew 7:24-27).

Jesus’ Gospel is an invitation into the Kingdom of God. The kingdom is the realm in which what God wants done is done. When Jesus tells us to lose our life in order to find it (see Matthew 16:24-25), he is showing how we are to give up an inferior life outside the Kingdom for a superior life in it.

The goal of the gospel is formation in Christ in this present life. Bob Roberts, Jr. states, “The problem with evangelism (and any other tenet of Christianity) is not so much the sharing of our faith but the living of our faith.” Through the gospel, we are called to become a people who demonstrate the reality of the Kingdom in this life.

The gospel of the Kingdom of God is indeed radical to our religious culture today. As the church, we must renew our devotion and commitment to Christ’s gospel and to live radically in God’s kingdom in order to see transformation take place in our world.