Is your Christianity compelling or cliche?

I grew up in a traditional Southern Baptist church. I “walked the aisle” at the age of eight, prayed a prayer asking Jesus into my heart and was baptized shortly thereafter. Unfortunately, I lived a degenerate rather than regenerate lifestyle for the next 16 years.

At the age of 24, I was newly married and felt it was time for me and my wife to start attending church again. My experience with Christianity was full of cliches, but it was all I knew about Jesus and religion. To me, that’s all it was — a few cliches and some practices I had learned over the years in order to go to heaven when I died. It was a very thin and misinformed understanding of the gospel.

By God’s grace, we began attending a church where the pastor and a faithful Sunday School teacher clearly explained the Scriptures. After several months of deep conviction, my wife and I repented of our sins and placed our faith in Jesus.

Over the last 17 years, we have been growing in our understanding of the Bible and how a relationship with Christ is so much more than the thin, event-based feeling that has become prevalent in American evangelicalism. The Bible shows us a robust portrait of salvation. Many have come to articulate this as the “From-To-For-By” approach. Perhaps biblical salvation can be better understood and lived out if we think in a comprehensive, God-centered way. We are saved from the wrath of God, to the people of God, for the mission of God, by the grace of God.

A relationship with Christ is so much more than the thin, event-based feeling that has become prevalent in American evangelicalism.

We are saved from the wrath of God.
Ephesians 2:1 says that we are dead in our sins and Ephesians 2:3 points out that by nature, all people are children of wrath and are enemies of God. Without Christ, we lack hope and a future, but when the saving power of Jesus’ death and resurrection is applied to our lives, we can have everlasting hope. He has saved us from what we truly deserve.

We are saved to the people of God.
There are no lone rangers in the Christian life. God has not set it up that way. Paul tells the Ephesians that the people of God are like a body so that “…when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love” (Ephesians 4:16). Church is not a calendar event or a good business network — it’s a family who loves and serves one another. When the church understands this, it is a foretaste of what’s to come. In the end, we will see a mighty throng, consisting of a multi-ethnic, multi-national collection of Christ-followers dwelling with Him as heaven invades earth once and for all.

We are saved for the mission of God.
From the beginning, God’s blessing of salvation brought benefits and responsibilities. The two can never be separated. 1 Peter 2:9 states, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” Here, Peter encapsulates the entire scriptural understanding of salvation: from darkness (and its effects), to light (and the subsequent family that truth builds), for the proclamation (in word and deed) of the excellencies of God at work.

We are saved by the grace of God.
Ephesians 2:5 says it is by grace that anyone is saved. None of this is because anyone deserves it — no person, nation or tribe. Salvation is an act of sheer grace on God’s part and truly displays the attributes that set Him apart from the ‘gods’ of the nations — His holiness and humility. In His holiness, He leaves no sin unpunished. In His humility, He is willing to take on that punishment Himself because of the great love with which He loved us.

Let the fullness of true, biblical salvation simultaneously comfort and compel us to know Him and make Him known more and more as the return of Jesus approaches.


by Josh Reed  
Adult Evangelism and Discipleship  /  Baptist State Convention of North Carolina

The treasure of tribe

Mass shootings, political strife, threats of war, the daily onslaught on the soul of our children — say what you will, but our world is rapidly changing, if not declining. With so much uncertainty in our world, one thing remains steady and sure: America desperately needs Jesus,...

Emphasize baptisms, ACP in your congregation

For many years, we have lamented the decline in baptisms that we have witnessed across the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). While it’s heartbreaking to see these declines, I don’t believe that the numbers alone paint a complete picture of how many people are placing their faith...

What’s your ‘why’ in children’s ministry?

As a children’s minister, I excelled at checking off my daily to-do list. If someone needed markers, tape or Goldfish, I was the one to call. As I reflect on the years I spent on a church staff, one major downfall I admit is the lack of vision I had. Having a vision would have...

Is your ‘one’ a child?

As Southern Baptists, we are being called to ask ourselves a question: “Who’s Your One?” Who is the one person you can pray for, build a relationship with and have an ongoing gospel conversation with? Who is one person you can focus on who needs a saving relationship with Jesus...

Halloween: Don’t let it divide you

Christians have long had differing views on how to approach Halloween. But Southern Baptist Convention President J.D. Greear said in a recent podcast that the holiday doesn't have to be divisive -- in fact, it can be a great way to get to know your neighbors. "Some participate and...

A beginner’s guide for disciple-making parents

Discipleship for the next generation begins at home with the parents. Because of today’s culture and the influence it can have on our lives, many of us don’t know what it means or looks like to disciple our children. Below are some simple starting points for you to begin...

Healthy churches are our mission

Our calling is to serve North Carolina Baptist churches in their health, mission and efforts to impact lostness in their own communities and beyond. Back in 2015, author and professor Chuck Lawless wrote an article entitled 10 Traits of a Healthy Church. Reading it caused me to...

Sexual abuse among breakout topics at Annual Meeting

Highlighted by a panel discussion hosted by the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), more than a dozen church and ministry leaders will address the sexual abuse crisis in the church during a series of breakout sessions at the...

1 Comment

  1. Rick Hughes

    Great thoughts Josh and biblically sound. This message is needed throughout our churches. Thank you man for sharing your heart dude!

    Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Select Language ^

Share This

Share this with your friends!