Happy Thursday to you all! I pray you all are enjoying our in-depth study of Kyle Idleman’s book Not a Fan. If you are not enjoying it, I pray at least it is making you think and evaluate your relationship with Jesus.
Yesterday I asked you: Have you made a decision for Jesus or have you committed to Jesus?
Doesn’t seem like there is much of a difference, but there is actually a big difference.
“Many have made a decision to believe in Jesus without making a commitment to follow Jesus. The gospel allows for no such distinction. Biblical belief is more than mental assent or verbal acknowledgement. Many fans have repeated a prayer or raised their hands or walked forward at the end of a sermon and made a decision to believe, but there was never a commitment to follow. Jesus never offered such an option. He is looking for more than word of belief; he is looking to see how those words are lived out in your life. When we decide to believe in Jesus without making a commitment to follow him, we become nothing more than fans.” (pg. 32)
The implications that some will make of Kyle’s above remarks is that he is saying our salvation is earned by our works. However, I don’t believe this is what Kyle is saying at all. I believe his point is that if we truly believe in Jesus Christ, our actions will show it. There will be a changes in our lives.
Remember yesterday in John 3:3, Jesus told us that unless a person is born again he will not enter God’s kingdom.
John 3: 3 (NLT): 3 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again,[a] you cannot see the Kingdom of God.” 4 “What do you mean?” exclaimed Nicodemus. “How can an old man go back into his mother’s womb and be born again?” 5 Jesus replied, “I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit.[b] 6 Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life.[c] 7 So don’t be surprised when I say, ‘You[d] must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows wherever it wants. Just as you can hear the wind but can’t tell where it comes from or where it is going, so you can’t explain how people are born of the Spirit.”
Well, to me, in order to be born again, we must be made new. We must turn away from our old ways, and begin to walk in new ways (repent). When we ask Jesus to be our Lord and Savior (repeat a prayer, etc) and we mean it, the Holy Spirit enters us and through that spirit we begin to lead different lives. My contention here may be slightly different here than Mr. Idleman, but the issue is not so much about our works but rather real belief.
Do we really believe in Jesus Christ?
Everyone can quote John 3:16 : “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. 17 God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.
I know some of you are shouting, “see, it said everyone who believes;all we have to do is believe!” It does say that. I believe it. But once again, what is the evidence of our belief? Do we truly believe in Jesus Christ if we are not willing to follow Him? Jesus didn’t just want Nicodemus to know and believe Jesus was who He said he was; Jesus wanted Nicodemus to follow him openly. Nicodemus’s belief in who Jesus was, was not enough; it is not enough for us either. We must make Jesus the Lord of our lives. Words alone are not enough and will never be enough. It takes real belief and real belief leads to real commitment and real action.
On Page 32, Kyle goes on to use a newlywed couple as an example. If we go to a wedding and witness two people exchanging vows only to find out later that the groom slept with someone else on the honeymoon, we would no doubt find his vows worthless, nothing more than words. Not much of a stretch to catch the analogy there, huh?
One of my biggest complaints about churches is that they are zealous to get people saved but then do little or nothing to make disciples out of the newly saved. There is more to our Christian lives than our salvation (yes, salvation is the most important aspect, but not the only aspect). Once we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior and are born again, our sole purpose for living should be to live for Jesus Christ. As Kyle points out, there is a lot of time spent on salvation and not nearly enough time on following. Why? Well, I believe it is because it is a lot easier to sell salvation than obedience (should probably stick to the term following; it doesn’t sound as harsh). Following is not fun. Following is not easy. Salvation is easier because we aren’t asking anything of anyone as salvation cannot be earned; it is all about grace.
“Have you ever been flipping through the channels late at night and come across an annoying infomercial telling you how to get rich quick? An obnoxious spokesperson is looking into the camera and asking questions like, Would you like to make more money? How would you like to only fly first class? Any interest in retiring early? How would you like to never worry about finances again? And then you’re asked, Does that sound like something you might be interested in? Then the Billy Mays wannabe goes on to explain that all this can be yours for free. You don’t even have to pay shipping and handling.
How do you respond to that? How can you say no? It costs you nothing and offers everything. And I wonder if some well-intentioned preachers may have missed their calling as late-night infomercial salesman. Because many people heard a gospel presentation that went something like this: How would you like to live forever? Would you live to have your sins forgiven and have a fresh start? Do you want to spend eternity in paradise instead of burning in hell? Some take it even further…Would you like to live a prosperous life? Are you ready to claim the health and wealth God has in store for you? Does that sound like something you might be interested in? And while some people rolled their eyes and changed the channel, a lot of fans signed up.
They ordered a gospel that cost them nothing and offered them everything.
So in case someone left it out or forgot to mention it when they explained what it meant to be a Christian, let me be clear: There is no forgiveness without repentance. There is so salvation without surrender . There is no life without death. There is no believing without committing. (pp.34-35)
Kyle Idleman should not be a salesperson. He would go broke fast.
I know this is not going over well with some of you. Honestly, I have been on both sides of the coin. I spent years where I beat myself up over my failures and my pharisee notions of perfection. I know religion, rules, and rituals never saved anyone. But I also know that just saying I believed in Christ didn’t make me a Christian. No, in order to be a “Christian” I had to be a Christ follower, in words and deeds.
Yes, I am very passionate on this subject because I lived as a fan for way too many years. I cannot even begin to tell you all the benefits and blessings that have come since I fully surrendered my life to Christ. Please join me tomorrow as we put the finishing touches on such a “touchy” subject.
Have a blessed day,