And He said to them, “You are from beneath; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. Therefore, I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins” (John 8: 23-24 NKJV).
Jesus, speaking to the Jews tells them that if they do not believe that He is the Messiah, they will die in their sins. He later told His Jewish Apostles to “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16: 15-16). What are we missing here? Jesus tells the Jews that if they don’t believe they will die in their sins and then tells His disciples that whoever (Jews and Gentiles) does not believe will be condemned. Sound pretty clear to me, yet we increasingly hear that there are other ways to gain salvation.
Jesus’ words sound pretty exclusionary to me!
Yes, exclusionary! We serve a God who is inclusive in that He sent His only begotten Son to die so that ALL who BELIEVE will have eternal life. Yet, He is exclusionary in that only those who BELIEVE can enter into eternity. That, however, is not good enough for many of us. No, we want God to just save everyone regardless of their beliefs, actions, and complete denial of Jesus and the purpose of His sacrifice. After all, if He is such a good God He wouldn’t send anyone to burn in hell forever; says the sinner with his thoughts bent on doing what is evil!
Why do we tiptoe around these hard sayings and why do we cater to the world and especially those who deny Christ and His gospel? What is the great commission of the church? Is it not the very command He gave His disciples; to preach the gospel? He did not say for us to sweeten it with our own blend of sugary message. Paul wrote in Romans 10: 14-17:
“How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written:
-“How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things!”
But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our report?” So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God-.
What type of faith will the evangelized have if we continue to water down the gospel and speak niceties? Oh, maybe they have held fast to the part about bringing good tidings of good things. Then again, isn’t that just what gospel means; good news? The trouble is we too often equate good with perfect – a life without trouble, trials, and temptation – but these things are natural for a christian to endure. Have we come to think otherwise and is this why christians are afraid to tell this to others? If we as christians are afraid to face what the bible warns will be a common factor in this life, how can we then teach and prepare others to do the same. If we can’t preach as we ought to, how can we teach salvation through Christ alone?
It is time to take ourselves out of the equation and just preach the gospel; even if it sounds exclusionary! After all, God said “Be holy, for I am Holy“. In other words, be set apart for His perfect purposes.