Have you ever been silenced by someone who didn’t want to hear the whole truth? They want to be told that Jesus and God are loving and that God will accept them just the way they are, sin and all, but they don’t want to hear about certain other traits of God, like his hatred for sin.
Modern day believers aren’t the only ones who are drawn to the loving character of God while wanting to ignore or silence the other character traits that make up God and Jesus.
Held as a prisoner by Rome, Paul encountered a leader who was eager to hear about God until what else Paul had to say about God struck a nerve.
Act 24:24-25 “And after some days, when Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish, he sent for Paul and heard him concerning the faith in Christ. Now as he reasoned about righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and answered, ‘Go away for now; when I have a convenient time I will call for you.’”
What were the issues that had Felix silencing Paul and sending him away? Righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come, obviously these meant something to Felix.
What if living however we want as long as we believe in God and want His forgiveness, doesn’t lead to Salvation? What if there is more to gaining salvation than simply believing that God loves you no matter what?
As we talked about last week: God loves you, but that doesn’t mean you won’t fall under judgement.
So where does that leave you? Is believing in God enough? Is asking for His forgiveness enough? Or is there more to salvation than just believing God exists and wanting His forgiveness?
What does it truly mean to believe in God?
Even Satan’s demons believed in Jesus and God, but this did not mean the demons were saved. No, they rebelled against God’s commands, and they, who fully believed in God’s existence and who knew God, had probably even spoken to God themselves, were cast out of Heaven. (Rev 12:9) Demons have no salvation from destruction in judgement. (Luk 8:28-31)
“Okay,” you might say, “but God doesn’t respond the same way to humans.” Are you sure about that?
What about the Pharisees and Sadducees in the time of John the Baptist and Jesus? Clearly they knew who God was, and they knew His Word, and they wanted to be saved from death. Yet this is John’s and Jesus’s responses to them.
Mat 3:7-9 “Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, and do not think to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones.”
Mat 23:13-15 “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in. Woe to you…you travel land and sea to win one proselyte, and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves….”
Clearly, there must be more to salvation that simply believing in God, otherwise this would not have been John’s and Jesus’s responses.
The answer lies within the aspect of asking forgiveness, for what does it mean to truly seek forgiveness? In order to truly seek forgiveness there is a piece we are missing. There is this word we have forgotten when it comes to salvation: Repentance
Mat 4:17 “…Jesus began to preach and to say, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’”
Repent means to turn from one thing to another.
Rom 13:12-14 “The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.”
1Jo 1:6 “If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.”
Act 3:19-31 “Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord….Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.”
Repentance is the missing piece to salvation. Without repentance there is no salvation, there is no blotting out of our sins without us turning away from our sin and to God.
Challenge: Which one do you want? God or your sin? Because it’s one or the other. Choose this day whom you will serve. There is a reason Jesus says of Himself. “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” John 14:6