Tuesday, November 17

Why Should God Let You Into Heaven?

If we are burdened about revival, then what kind of gospel message lies at the heart of the life of the convert and the church? We want to be revived to a biblical gospel. The larger question is: what IS the gospel? 

What IS the Gospel?

In Michael Horton’s interview in this month’s Christianity Today, pp. 46-49, “Christ At The Center,” He focuses on a critical idea which has come to me as a confluence of weaknesses. Two of our elders, for example, volunteered that some members, when questioned re: their salvation, failed to define their conversion in terms of what Jesus had done for them, that is through the atonement, justification, etc. (This takes into consideration that not everyone would be familiar with theological jargon). But we usually pose the well-used question:  “If you died and stood before God, and he asked you, ‘Why should I let you into my heaven?’ What would you say?” Even when given hints, “what do you think about justification,” they still couldn’t see it. Now, apart from the obvious lesson that is for us in leadership, I see another larger issue when conjoined with Horton’s interview. Most today tend to define their salvation in terms of what it means for them or to them (which is fine on one level). And from there they tend to think of Christianity in terms of what they do to stay, as it were, on the good side of God. And this is very unfortunate especially in light of the fact that this is promoted by pastors in the pulpit! But . . .

The gospel-driven life is not following a list of imperatives even good and necessary ones, like: read your Bible, pray, study these books, learn the spiritual disciplines, evangelize. Paul’s “power of God unto salvation” (Rom. 1:16) is more than the power of God “to conversion,” as Horton opines. Salvation is not based upon what happens inside of me, but on what Christ did outside of me. It is what God has done FOR us in Christ. What we find, then, is that this is more than one man’s point of view. It is, unfortunately endemic to the church culture at large.

My assessment, not just from the above indicators, but from my years in Christendom, is that an unhealthy number within the church have become unintentional victims of imperative overload. The end result has been a weakening of the gospel message and a relocating of our salvation in the results or fruits of that salvation. This has serious implications for many doctrines, including the atonement, repentance, evangelism, and even for how we pray for revival.

The gospel, in short, and according to Scripture is:

. . .that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me (1 Corinthians 15:3-8).
Christ died and rose again and demonstrated this by showing himself AFTER his resurrection to too many people for this to have been considered myth. Christ did it all. We get into heaven by the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross and in his exaltation in heaven. There is infinite merit in the precious blood of Jesus Christ!

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus' blood and righteousness.
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus' name.

. . . "Dressed in His righteousness alone, 
Faultless to stand before the throne. 

On Christ the Solid Rock I stand; 
All other ground is sinking sand."
-Edward Mote (1834)

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