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Safety or Authority?

September 12, 2009

Before we can accept salvation in Jesus, we need to accept his authority. If we cannot accept his authority, accepting his salvation means nothing.

Why do I say that?

Just look in the Bible. You’ll see that in his early years Jesus spent a lot of time helping his disciples understand his authority. The miracle in Cana where he turned water into wine. The miracle on the boat where he calmed the sea. The anger in which he turned the tables of the money changers in the temple, and with authority claiming they are polluting his Father’s house. With authority, he spoke in front of a grave and Lazarus who was dead for days, came out. Jesus told Pilate, with authority, about his kingdom from the above. On and on it goes.

Years ago when I started reading the Bible first, I came across this statement – “I am the way, truth and life. No one comes to the Father except through me”

I was stunned. I felt challenged. My faith was not in this Jesus, and it was not acceptable to me that he is the “only” whatever he claimed to be.

You know who else was challenged the same way when he heard that God the Father has given all authority under heaven and earth to his Son? Another of God’s created being, an angel, who we call Satan. Just so you know, the concept of Satan (or Devil) is not just  a biblical concept. Even in my previous faith he was referred to as “Saitan”. Now, we did not think much about him. But the concept was there. Even the concept of heaven and hell was there – it was called “swarg” and “narak”. And also the concept of “sin” and “righteous acts” – called as “paap” and “punya”. How interesting when I hear that Bible has these concepts, whereas most of other spirituality is much richer and “evolved” than this – and even read claims that such concepts are just not necessary and even missing from some of the great spiritual scriptures and teachings. It is not so. In any case, I digress.

But, for a good reason. All these concepts are pervasive across many major spiritual teachings – it is just that they are not emphasized much. And the Bible does. The whole case of biblical scripture rests on these concepts. Why are these aspects of spirituality considered irrelevant or overrated in these times?

I attribute the success of making them irrelevant or overrated, to Satan. Here’s how it goes – If you start taking these concepts seriously, you’ll want to be relieved from them. For example, you’ll not want to be called a “sinner”. You’ll not want to go to “hell” or even accept that hell exists. You’ll not want to be called the “son of the Devil”. And so you’ll want to be either “saved” from them or make them so irrelevant that they do not really matter. And it is promised that Jesus will take care of all these. At least that is what is being shared when the “gospel” is being shared. And so Satan has successfully made Jesus Christ the god of small things. He has not only done that, but on top of that he has made sure that it is what gets heard the most and preached the most. Let me explain.

The “gospel” that is usually shared is this – Because of the Sin of Adam, which was disobeying God and eating the fruit (by the way, the fruit is not apple) that Eve gave him, man lost the relationship with God. He lost the connection. And we all are born in the same sin nature as Adam. Hence we all have lost the connection – because we disobey in the same spirit as Adam did. Nothing different than Adam. So, even if we do not eat the fruit and disobey God, in God’s eyes we are in the same state as Adam was after he disobeyed. And hence our punishment for this is to be forever disconnected from God. To suffer death. Not only that, since God is righteous and will judge our lives on the last day, he will not see any righteousness in us. Hence he will throw us into hell. And now enters Jesus Christ. He took the same form as Adam did, but he remained obedient till the end. His obedience cost him his life, our judgment that God poured on him. And so, if I trust in Jesus Christ as my savior, God will receive me in Christ as “clean”. He will consider me to be clean from all sin, and I will be allowed into heaven. And I can be in the presence of God forever – and not be tormented in the fires of hell.

I call this the Gospel of Safety. What is wrong with preaching this gospel? A lot. Really a lot.

I am not saying it is not biblical. It is. But it is only “half” true. Sadly, it is the only thing that is shared as the complete “truth”. And even more sad is the fact that this is what being shared as the “gospel” 99% of the time – on TV channels, in street evangelism, in one-one-one relationships, in crusades, in scores of booklets and pamphlets that promise to show you the way to heaven, and on and on it goes.

It is scriptural that Jesus came as a substitute sacrifice, for our sins. It is true that he died on the cross and paid the price for “all” of humanity. It was a once and for all done deal for everyone. And it is also true that there is no entrance into heaven for sinners. One of my friends recently said – “sin is overrated”. And there is truth in that. Yes, it is overrated. And for a reason. Because it has been over preached. And Satan has been successful in connecting it with Jesus Christ, so well, such as no conversation that a follower of Christ has can begin without that or somehow come to the question of sin. If Satan can make sin irrelevant, he can make Jesus irrelevant. If Satan can overrate sin, he can overrate Jesus.

But the most important fact that comes before all this is that Jesus is The God. He has total authority over this universe. He is the ruler of our lives. He is The King. All creation is held in him. We live, because he lives.

And we do not have enough courage to proclaim his Gospel of Authority first, before we proclaim his Gospel of Safety. The reasons for not having the courage are these – it will cause divisions, severe relationships, and it will cost us everything we hold near and dear – including our life!

We want to start “safe” and then get to the more “dangerous” part. We start with giving our life to Jesus because he died for our sin, but I truly wonder if we ever accept his authority over our lives. And if we truly do, our lives will not be the same. Because Jesus said so. He said – “you need to die before you can have life”. You must be born again. And this is not just the “born again” that we have seen and heard for past hundreds and hundreds of years. It actually starts with “death”. Unless we die we cannot live. And we are told that we need to die to “self”. That is true but I am not sure if we truly understand what it means. More importantly, we need to die so that nothing, absolutely nothing, will have authority over our life. And when we die that kind of death, that’s when Jesus says, “now you can come under my authority with a life that I will give to you” – what a challenge Jesus throws at us!

I am glad nobody preached me the gospel of safety. I would have never understood the kind of authority Jesus wants to have in my life. I would have never understood what carrying my cross daily, as Jesus asks me to do, really meant.

Coming to Jesus Christ through the gospel of safety will do you no harm. It is not wrong to start preaching safety either. But is imperative that we come to terms with the Authority of Jesus Christ. Otherwise we will not be truly in Christ, so much so that God can pronounce us clean.

We know about the Great Commission that Jesus Christ gave – “go ye into the world and make disciples – baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit” – and scores of movements and missionaries have taken the gospel to the ends of the world in obedience to the great commission. And scores of lives have been “saved” because of that.

But have you noticed that just before those verses Jesus says this – “all authority has been given unto me, under heaven and on earth” and then the Lord Jesus Christ gives the great commission. Oh, how we have missed that in all these years! How we have lost the courage it takes to start with the authority of Christ and then come to his safety.

Don’t come to the cross of Jesus Christ, all broken and burdened by your sins – or even with your questions. Come to it with all the “authorities” that rule over you – your faith, your culture, your relationships, your pride, your sins, your career, your ambitions – and be willing to exchange it for the Authority of Jesus Christ over your life. And if you are not willing to do that – write off Jesus Christ from your spiritual pursuit. At least until you are willing, again.

And only then will you experience death and start a new life. And it will not turn all rosy overnight – Salvation in Christ is not just a one-time experience, it is a life-long journey (more on this in a subsequent post). We are continually being saved – so as to realize the authority of Jesus in our lives from time to time. My natural bent is to not accept his authority and resist it from time to time. But the more I understand the reality of his authority, the more closer my footsteps will be – to his.

Step by Step, help me Lord, to see who truly is the Lord in my life. And give me the courage to share your authority, first. This is my earnest prayer.


From → Real in Christ

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