“The greatest heresy in the American Evangelical and Protestant Church is that if you pray and ask Jesus Christ to come into your heart, he will definitely come in. You will not find that in any place in Scripture. What you need to know is that salvation is by faith alone in Jesus Christ. And faith alone in Jesus Christ is preceded and followed by repentance: a turning away from sin.” (Emphasis added)
This message bothers me. What it says to me is this: “Christ’s love, his grace, his death. . . these are not powerful enough to transcend your life of sin. You must become sinless before you can follow Christ.”
Christ challenges us to believe before anything else. He finds Levi in the midst of his brokenness, sitting at the tax collector’s table. Does he tell Levi, “Follow me. But first you must stop cheating people”?
He finds Mary and Martha, in the middle of their suffering, confusion, questioning, and doubt. And does he say, “Did I not say if you stopped doubting and questioning and then believed, you would see the glory of God?”
When the prison guard in Philippi asked Paul, “What must I do to be saved?” did Paul reply, “Stop thinking thoughts of suicide, and then believe in Jesus Christ, and you will be saved.”
Christ calls us in the middle of our hurts, in the middle of our habits, and in the middle of our hang-ups and says, “Believe. All the rest will follow. Faith now. I’ll take care of the rest in time.”
The jailer called for lights and ran to the dungeon and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. Then he brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, along with everyone in your household.” And they shared the word of the Lord with him and with all who lived in his household.
Click here to see what Pastor Tim has to say about what comes (rather, what doesn’t come) before belief in Christ.