A simplistic view of salvation is to consider it a legal transaction, a 'get out of jail free' card from the consequences of sin or avoidance of hell—at best, an incomplete and imperfect gospel. The New Testament view is that Jesus came to save His people from their sins (Matt. 1:23), not merely the consequences of those sins. For us to obtain salvation, we first agree that it is a gift of God through Jesus Christ (Eph. 2:9) who freed us from bondage to sin and the evil one. Then comes the process of submitting to the transformational work of the Holy Spirit to form us in Christ-likeness.
I wonder where the concept of people ‘accepting’ Christ came from. It has the scent of a promotional advertisement on it: “Just accept this special offer! You can choose to receive this message now.” So easy, so passive, so deceptive. The heart of the gospel is not that we accept Christ, but that through Him, God accepts us—a difference that is worlds apart. For this reason, we should examine our vocabulary and scripts that we use in presenting the gospel. The cross is not a tattoo or jewellery; it is offensive, and the cost of truly following Jesus causes many to turn away. Salvation in Christ means submission to Him and His agenda for His church and the world. This submission transforms every aspect of our lives. Jesus told interested people to count the cost, with no compromise on offer. Is this clear in the gospel we are spreading? Jesus said, “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last” (John 15:16, NIV). God is the initiator of our relationship with Him. We are in no position to set the terms.
OM has enhanced its mission from merely proclaiming the gospel to making vibrant disciples of those who trust Christ—a process that is long, costly, and utterly necessary to fulfil Jesus’ command. Recently in a Himalayan country, I met with 68 people under the age of 25, all from villages, many semi-literate. They were being trained as disciple makers to be sent a week’s journey away to live among least-reached people. In the last 18 months, they have led and then discipled 154 people to be Jesus followers, forming ten new churches. They are continuing to multiply today. I would rather support that work than invest in thousands who never develop beyond being fans of Jesus.
Fans or followers?
Jesus initially had few followers among countless ‘fans’. The crowds that enjoyed the very best entertainment—miracles, meals, clever arguments—disappeared when Jesus made it personal and risky. Fans are passive spectators and admirers, whereas followers serve a leader, submit to that leader’s teachings, and imitate his example. Many people are fans of Jesus, admiring His values, respecting His teachings, but do so without committing wholeheartedly to His cause. Jesus is looking for followers, not fans. With Jesus, I want to wholeheartedly learn all I can about Him, adopt His ways, and live by His teaching.
Are we sufficiently clear in our own minds that the gospel we proclaim promises these two kinds of people two very distinct futures? Jesus warned false disciples (fans) to be certain of their final outcome (Matt. 7:21–23). Is this central to our message?
In God’s grace, fans can become followers. How can we overwrite ‘accepting’ Christ with the good news that, in Christ, God accepts us? How will this change our effectiveness in mission? Jesus deserves nothing less.
Thank you for your prayers and support of all OM ministries worldwide.