Choose Life

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Wednesday, August 26, 2015 0 comments

by Logan Ames

Just a week and a half ago, I had one of the most blessed experiences I’ve had since I became a licensed pastor. I was one of the volunteers for a city outreach and crusade event that was held in the county where I lead a congregation. I knew that the event would include an opportunity for believers in Jesus to be baptized, but I had not been asked to be a part of it. I took an extra set of clothes anyway on the off chance that I might be asked to help. As it turned out, they wanted a minister and another strong person to actually perform the baptisms, so they selected me and one of the elders at my church. Neither one of us had baptized anyone before, but we agreed to do it and had no idea what the Lord had in store for us. That night, I had the privilege of publicly asking 62 individuals if they believed and confessed that Jesus Christ is their Lord AND Savior, hearing them say “yes,” and then baptizing them! God is so good and gracious to me.

Here’s the thing: I have absolutely no influence whatsoever regarding whether or not they are truly “saved." Thankfully, I’m not the judge of them or anyone else because I would get it wrong most of the time. The only thing I can attest to is that they each publicly confessed that they have faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Truthfully, they can’t make Jesus their savior. He already made that choice for them a long time ago. The only thing they, or any of us, can really do is make Jesus our LORD. Philippians 2:9-11 declares that there will be a time when EVERY tongue confesses Jesus Christ as Lord and EVERY knee bows to him, including those who didn’t choose to do so during their lives (those “under the earth”). True followers of Jesus in this life choose to live with him as Lord, obeying his commands rather than only accepting his sacrifice on the cross. For those 62 people who were baptized last week, only God knows whether they truly believe in their hearts that Jesus is Lord and are ready to live in obedience to him.

What actually makes a person “saved” is a topic about which Christian denominations still disagree today. I’ve always found those theological disagreements somewhat humorous since none of us are God and what we “decide” as denominations doesn’t affect a person’s eternal standing with God one iota. But if we believe that all Scripture comes from God, then Romans 10:9 leaves little doubt: “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." That’s pretty cut and dry. There is nothing there about baptism, the Lord’s Supper, speaking in tongues, a clear, physical receiving of the Holy Spirit, or anything else that some believers have “required” for salvation over the years. Those things may come as a result of one coming to faith, but Paul does not list them as requirements. Confess that Jesus is your Lord and truly believe that God raised him from the dead (because if death defeated him and he stayed in the grave then he really didn’t save anybody), and you receive salvation. That’s it! Stop looking for the mystery when there isn’t one.

It seems that some don’t want to accept this truth because they can’t fathom that God would make it so easy for everyone. The Jews during Paul’s time were in that group because they couldn’t accept that Gentiles could be saved as easily as they could. But when you look at the context of this verse in Romans 10:5-13, you see that Paul actually makes it clear to his audience that the way to salvation has been obvious for a long time. Look at verses 6-8 in this section and you will see that Paul is quoting from Deuteronomy 30:12-14. This is a section where Moses is speaking to all of Israel and pronouncing the terms of their covenant with the Lord. He tells them in 30:11 that it’s “not too difficult or beyond (their) reach." The verses that follow are the ones Paul uses, and in both cases the leaders are telling the people that righteousness is not meant to be impossible. It would’ve been impossible for a human being to “ascend into heaven” or “descend into the abyss." But God makes it so that we don’t have to go to those places. “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart” (Deut. 30:14 and Rom. 10:8).

The difference between the Jews of the Old Testament and believers in the New Testament was the covenant. Moses was telling them that the terms of the covenant were in their mouth and heart. We often talk about how it was impossible for any Jew to follow every single law that God gave. That is true. But the law was only one part of the covenant; God also gave them the rite of sacrifice to cover the times that they couldn’t keep the law. Taking both the law and the sacrifice into account, righteousness was possible. Christians in the New Testament had it even easier. Rather than have to continue with their physical sacrifices, they needed only to confess and believe in Jesus, who said the new covenant was in his blood (Luke 22:20).

While the terms of the covenant may have been different between what Moses and Paul taught, the consequence for obeying or disobeying them remain the same. Moses declared that God was setting before them two choices: life/prosperity and death/destruction (Deuteronomy 30:15). If they did as the Lord commanded, they would live, increase as a people, and be blessed in the Promised Land. But if they disobeyed and turned away from him, they would be destroyed and would not last long in that land (30:16-17). In Romans, Paul tells us what is necessary to be saved. Do we as Christians even remember that there is something that we need to be saved from? That word “saved” tells us that this is pretty serious. It’s our lifesaver when we are sinking in the water. It’s our ONLY hope. The implication is that if we reject the terms of the new covenant and do not confess Jesus as Lord or truly believe that he defeated death and sin and everything evil in our lives, we’re toast! God may be gracious and we may not die right away, but death is an eventual certainty.

The people that I had the privilege of baptizing confessed Jesus as their Lord and Savior. What they believe and how they live going forward will be up to them and the other believers that God sends to surround and encourage them. Ultimately, they have the same choice that you and I do. We can choose life or choose death. The world may convince us that those are not our choices. The world may present other options or even other ways to get what we want. But God’s Word is clear in both Deuteronomy and Romans. It’s your choice. Will you trust Jesus today and choose life? If not, you’re simply betting that God will give you more chances before you are destroyed. None of us know how many more we will get, so choose life today.

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