Wednesday evening, I met with my “family” of brothers and sisters for our weekly Bible Study. And, I will confess that I didn’t hear a thing that was said (yes, I am still suffering the effects of the accident I had last April 2nd), but you know, it doesn’t matter. It was just great to meet with them again.
However, I did begin to consider what I wanted to share with you this morning. You see, far too many supposed “believers,” have been deceived in believing they are “saved,” and were told lies just to get them to “sign on the ‘dotted line.'” So, I am going to share a message that may shock some of you (probably, many of you). This is a message that has been on my heart for many years, and have hinted at many times, but I don’t think I have been as direct as I have wanted to be.
In fact, I just found a sermon from A.W. Tozer that says exactly what I wanted to share, so I took great liberties with it to get my point across. By liberties, I mean that I caught something very significant in one of his sermons, and ended up redacting much of what he said. Although, I hope the message remains the same. At the end, I posted a link where you can download an MP3 of the origianl message that he gave many decades ago.
You see, in our current age, many, far too many, are going to perish by misunderstanding the message of Christ. I continually hear people say that to receive eternal life, and to become a disciple of Christ (which by the way, are the requirements of Salvation), all you have to do is “accept Jesus as your Savior.” Go ahead, how many of you have heard that, or even told others that?
Now, you have to understand that your relationship to Jesus Christ is a matter of life or death. I hope I am not being too dramatic on that. I am simply stating the Gospel Truth! Most of us understand that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners. Right? both of us can take that for granted and have no reason to question it. And we properly understand that we are saved by Christ alone without works. Yep! No arguments there. He did die for our sins according to the Scriptures, He did rise again. The Scripture does say that we are saved by Christ alone without works.
Okay . . . so where is the problem? Where is the big issue that is causing millions to never come to a Saving Knowledge of Jesus Christ? What is it that we are missing and causing us to never enter into a relationship with Christ that saves us? What is this issue that is a matter of life or death?
Well okay, if you were to ask the average person on the street – or sadly, the average preacherm for that matter – “How do I come into saving relation to Jesus Christ?” they will either say, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved!” Well, if that is your answer, I give you an A+. That comes from Acts 16:31. Or, they would say “Receive Christ as your Savior!” Again, that is correct. You find that in John 1:12. Or, they would give you a third answer: “Accept Christ as your personal Savior.”
Oh, ouch! Now you won’t find that phrase, “accept Christ” anywhere in the Scriptures. That may shock you, but it is the absolute truth! This whole idea of “accepting Christ‘ doctrine that is messing up everyone’s concept of Salvation!
So, what does it mean to “accept Christ“? Well first, it has certainly become the panacea all over the evangelical world and it has become a fatal mistake to millions! This whole attitude of accepting; this passive acceptance of Christ; this easy acceptance is causing many have a false hope of their Salvation!
A man can preach a tremendous sermon and then say “Now, what should you do? Accept Christ. Have you accepted Christ? Just raise your hand, no one is looking [which is another lie], and you will be saved.” Or we go to the bedside of a man who is dying: “Have you accepted Christ?” we ask. And if he says that he has, we pat his hand and the next day or two we preach that he is now in heaven, sitting beside his Lord. Well, now I’m awfully afraid that there are millions of people who are perishing because they are being told to accept Christ and they have no idea what it means.
To tell a man to “accept Christ,” while it is relatively correct, if you do not carefully explain that they are making Jesus the LORD of their lives, they are actually getting the idea that Christ is standing, hat in hand, waiting on their decision; neatly awaiting their verdict on Him. It makes Him apply to them, instead of their applying to Him. It is permitting them to accept Christ by an emotional impulse and accept Him painlessly and at no cost and no inconvenience! Shame on that preacher!
Some have suggested that the cross of Christ should never inconvenience people. Well, I’ll tell you what, making Jesus the Lord of your life is the most inconvenient thing in the world. The cross of Christ means death to our plans, desires, ambitions and rule over our lives! The cross took this man named Jesus, who was at the height of his healthy human life and took Him out on a hillside and killed Him – now, for Him, that was an inconvenient thing! And any cross is inconvenient; if we understand what we mean by accepting Christ, it is the most inconvenient thing. But in popular theology, this accepting Christ has no inconvenience attached to it.
Now, turn your thoughts back to Old Testament times. Pretend that Moses had told Israel that awful, wonderful night, “Now, stay in your houses and kill the lamb and put the blood on the door post and stay right there and accept the fact that it is done – the great transaction is done! You are delivered by the Passover blood. Thank God and rejoice and establish a tabernacle and stay right where you are. Yeah well, they would have stayed right there in Egypt with the blood on the door and God waiting to take them out but they stayed right where they were, they would have died in Egypt! The truth is that they had to get up and get out of Egypt to prove they believed in the power of the Passover Blood!
Think about the story of the “prodigal” son. A certain man had two sons and one of them said to his father, “Give me the goods that I would receive if you died, and he divided the inheretance between them, the two of them, the boys, his living. And after a few days, the boy left – the younger one – and went into a far country and spent his entire inheritance in riotous living. And when he became hungry and had nothing to eat he went and attached himself to a swineherd and he fed swine. While he was there in the swine-pen and he got hungry because his wages would not buy enough to eat. And it was a humbling thing for a Jew to feed swine. And one day a man appears – and here I depart from the Scriptures. One day a young man appears and this young man says to this boy who had gone away from home and was feeding swine – he had a bundle of tracts and was just out of Bible school – and had been taught how to win souls in nine easy lessons.
Well, he goes up to this prodigal son lying among the swine and he says, “Hey friend, I have good news for you!” And he looks up and says, “Thank God, I need it. I need good news. What is it?” “Your father is ready to forgive you!” “Well,” the boy says, “thank the Lord!” “Your father is ready to forgive you; do you believe it?” And the boy says, “Yes, I believe it.” “All right now, thank God now, let’s bow our heads and you thank the Lord you are saved. You believe the father forgives you. Yes, well, Amen! Now, we’ll thank the dear Lord that you are saved. And now goodbye! Don’t forget to witness, and sometime I’ll be around again.”
So this swineherd stays right there in the far country and he gets zealous and becomes a missionary and goes out and starts to make converts among the other swineherds and pretty soon he has them all believing that the father forgives, and they all do, and say, “I thank God the father forgives.” Alright, and then they build a little tabernacle call it the First Tabernacle of the Converted Swineherds. And they all stay right there in the far country; nobody goes home. And that boy is still ragged and dirty and smelly and the people — the respectable people of the neighborhood – when they pass by elevate their nose and hurry past that gathering. And they say, “So persecuted they the prophets which were before us. It is the result of our holy living that they are giving us the cold shoulder.”
Then one day while they are singing choruses in this First Church of the Converted Swineherds in the far country a young fellow comes along and asks permission to speak and he rises and says to them, “Put away your sins, you wicked people! Put away your sins! Learn to do good; quit doing evil, be righteous and follow the Lord and do good and you will be saved.” And they get angry and throw him out and say, “He’s a legalist!” and that he ‘doesn’t believe in grace.’ “Why, we are saved by accepting the doctrine.” But this young fellow wanders off and time goes on and the fatted calf gets old and dies and the father passes away and the boy stays on in the far country.
Now that’s evangelism as it is preached a good deal today in America! It is, “Believe on Christ. Accept Christ and stay where you are!” Now that is excused and explained by a hundred different learned ways but it leaves the sinner in his sins! And the man in his sins will be damned as certainly as the sun rises in the east and goes down in the west!
Now, our Lord Jesus Christ said, “if any man will come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” Those beautiful words of Jesus! “If any man will come after me . . .” Notice that He is interested and He is inviting; He is even urging but He is not begging! We have reversed our messages so Jesus is standing on trial and us sinners stand in the place of the judge! And if we should choose to quit our sins and follow Him we think we have done Him a favor! And in the meantime, He stands pensively waiting!
My friends, I want you to notice that He passes by and if any man will come he will live eternally and he will gain eternally. But if any man will not, he will lose eternally but Jesus Christ will lose nothing! The stars remain in their courses and are His and the seraphim and the cherubim and the principalities and powers and might and dominion and archangels and Heaven itself and the sea of glass, all are His! So that He cannot gain anything by my coming and He will not lose anything by my not coming! However, if I come, He says, “Let Him deny himself.” Now this is just what we don’t dare tell people these days! But it is what the evangelists of another day told people! And in the dim light of modern religious
And in the dim light of modern religious ideas, it is an odd thing that Christ should place such an obstacle before people and that He should lay down a condition for following Him; it is almost as if He is talking people out of coming! He is setting a condition that is exactly contrary to our human nature. Nobody wants to deny himself; we want to preserve ourselves. And yet He lays down a condition for following Him that runs exactly contrary to natural human nature; runs counter to everything that is taught to us in our schools; contradicts the instincts of self-preservation; arrays all the power of our natural self against Jesus Christ; cuts down on the number of those that will come.
Our Lord plainly, and often, I might add, turned and cut down on the number of those that would come and when He did that, He stepped up the quality of those who would come. But we would prefer to step up the quantity and we don’t care too much about the quality. If we can just get them to come! If we can just get them forward and say, “Two thousand nine hundred and twelve (or five hundred and six or whatever it is) came.” Well, our Lord never cared about how many came! But He said if anybody will come, let them come – they are welcome to come. I came to die for them; I am rising to plead for them and if they will come, let them come. But in coming, they need to deny themselves. Yes, it is contrary to everything they have been taught but is the requirement to come.
Now I wonder if this Christ who laid down this obstacle — who put this huge hurdle in front of the kingdom of God — I wonder if that is the same Jesus, the same Christ that now we have to excuse Him, and edit Him and amend Him, we have to coax and baby and plead to gain followers for Him; is this the same Jesus that gives everything and asks nothing? Is this the same Jesus that smiles and goes along with covetous businessmen and crooked politicians and carnal entertainers and half-saved cowboys? Is this the same Jesus? I don’t think so at all! Paul talked about another Jesus and I think there is another Jesus loose among us and He is not the Jesus of the New Testament nor the Christ of God!
For the Christ of God is not begging businessmen; neither is He camping at the dirty door of some half-converted sex-dancer and begging her to come and putting up with anything and making any kind of an excuse for her if she will only come! He simply says, “Come, if you want to. Come, if you will. Anyone who will, let him come. Come, come to me!” But He never begs and He never coaxes and He never compromises and He never in anyway changes His terms! He makes the terms and you accept them. It is as simple as that.
A great many people come to the altar and howl and we say, “Well, he is really under conviction. He is having a wonderful time there.” What he is doing is he is trying to get the Lord to meet his terms! Well, the Lord will never meet your terms, Mister! You will die and go to hell before He will ever meet your terms! He lays His terms down and you meet them! I do not understand why we presume He will change His standards, His terms, to get us to come. He is God, and you are a sinner! And you must meet His terms! Young people meet His terms. Kids meet His terms. Young adults meet His terms. Married couples meet His terms. Drunks meet His terms. Dishonest businessmen meet His terms. Thieves meet His terms. Lesbians, Bisexuals, Transexuals, Homosexuals meet His terms. We all must meet His terms and whether it be presidents or kings or queens, they will all meet His terms – and they must! He will positively never compromise! “Let him come unto Me, let him deny himself, let him take up his cross and follow Me.” Now, that is to accept Christ!
Now, what is to accept Christ? Well, let me define it for you a little more closely. Acceptance of Christ is to form an attachment to the person of Christ; to the person of Jesus Christ. It i’s not to fall in love with a tender-faced Jesus. It is to realize that this tender-faced Jesus is also Lord and God! That God has made Him Lord over all things and Head of the Church and that He has the keys of death and hell and that He will sit on the throne judging all mankind and that His Father has given all power into His hand – this mighty Lord Jesus! It is to form an attachment to Him that is revolutionary, reversing and transforming your life. If your Christian conversion did not reverse the direction of your life; if it did not transform it then you are not converted at all, you are simply a victim of the ‘accept Jesus‘ heresy!
What is it to accept Jesus? It is to form an attachment to the person of Christ that is not only revolutionary but it is complete. That is, you cannot compartmentalize your life. A lot of us try to compartmentalize our life and say, “Jesus, you can have the front room and the living room and the den and the upstairs bedroom but the bedrooms at the back and the bedrooms at the front and the den you cannot have. You cannot go to the basement; you only can stay in certain parts of my life.”
Well, now, that kind of horrible, base dealing with the Lord Jesus Christ will only cause us to be lost at last! For me to accept Christ means that I am to accept Him in every part of my being and that I am to form an attachment to Him, an emotional, an intellectual, a volitional attachment which is complete, leaving no part of the life unaffected. If He cannot control you, He cannot save you. And if He cannot control all of you, He cannot control any of you!
It is also to be an attachment that is exclusive. I mean that Christ is not to be one of several interests. They tell us that in some countries they will accept Christ and enthrone Him just as you enthrone a statue somewhere in your home but they make Him one more of several vital interests. He is one more of several.
A Christian is one who specializes. He is an exclusivist. He believes in Jesus Christ exclusively. He believes in Him as Lord exclusively and that excludes all other possible interests, possible saviors — it excludes all other possible hopes. The Christian who truly is born again and has accepted Christ correctly has accepted Him exclusively so that He is to you what the sun is to the earth: he is that which you revolve around. He is the central sun and you are an orbit moving around Him held by the bonds of His love and lightened by the light of His face. And while you do have other interests, they are minor and they are secondary and they take their place down the scale: Christ is first! The Lord Jesus Christ is first! And for Him, I surrender everything; to Him, I give all to Jesus Christ my Lord and my Savior. He can command me! He is the head of my wife, He is the head of my children, He is the head of my ambitions, He is first and everything else is last! Anything else is not New Testament Christianity, my friends; anything else is a compromise and it leaves people half-saved, confused, frustrated, bewildered and in the dark!
Jesus Christ is your exclusive Savior and all other relationships are determined and conditioned by this one over-whelming, almighty relationship! Don’t we see this in the stories our missionaries tell us? Don’t we read it in Foxe’s Book of Martyrs? Don’t we see it in the story of men and women down the centuries who have taken Jesus Christ and had to walk out on their families to take Him? — Who have taken Jesus Christ and had to give up their jobs to take Him? — Who have taken Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior and have had to do things that shortened their lives in order to take Him?
If you are not sufficiently given to Jesus Christ and exclusively attached to Him that you will be willing to put your life on the block for Him I can not see how you can claim to be a Christian!
You can listen to this sermon, unedited and unredacted, just download it. It is in an mp3 and just Click here (Right-click, then “Save as …”). The file size is: 2,734,976 bytes and the listening time is: 22:47.
I received various responses to this message, but the most common one was acceptance and repentance. So many times I hear people, even some who are close to me, say, “I believe in Jesus . . .” My usual response is “Great! So do the demons in hell. Have you made Jesus the Lord of your life? Because that is all that matters.”
So many want to come on their terms, and others what to bow before Jesus and submit to Him. Some want to get away with their sin. Others want to get away from their sin. Some will argue that is a growing process: New Disciples are not perfect right from the starting line. And this is absolutely true. But someone who has received the life of Christ; made Jesus the absolute Lord of their life, may not be perfect, but there is a driving desire to be perfect. Your heart and desires changes and your priorities change. As Tozer has said, “The reason why many are still troubled, still seeking, still making little forward progress is because they haven’t yet come to the end of themselves. We are still trying to give orders, and interfering with God’s work within us. ”
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I do thank you for your gifts. It is your faithful and continued support that makes these messages possible.