For many weeks during our Wednesday bible study, we examined what the bible teaches about ‘Coming to Christ’. I decided on this topic because in my recent meditations about my country Nigeria, I realized the darkness had gotten darker than when I was much younger. This is perplexing because there are more churches now than when I was a child. So how is it that that hasn’t translated into light chasing away the darkness in this great country?
Of course, I am not talking about the darkness the incessant national grid collapses bring upon the land (or the one we experience where I live- we are on a 4hr of electricity/day band), but the darkness of sin. Which is palpable everywhere you turn and seen in the evil in the land- senseless killings, insurrections, terrorism, corruption, and orderlessness in every sphere of our society.
How is it that 86million Christians are not able to affect the land that’s just 900 thousand km2? When 12 Jewish men in the first century changed the world?
There are 3 reasons I can think of. I am sure when you think about it yourself, you’ll find more. But I’d like to share these 3 reasons in this post and the one next week.
Most of these 86 million persons who identify as Christians have not come to the Christ freely offered in the gospel to sinners.
What you must know from the outset is that the Christianity the bible teaches about is transformative. It changes not only the person who receives Christ but also has a tremendous influence on his immediate environment. Here is how the Holy Spirit describes it in Gal 5:22- “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”
What the phrase ‘against such things there is no law’ means is this- there is no law in the world that could fault conducts/behaviors which are in accordance with these standards. This means when a man is united with Christ, he becomes -as Gal 5:22 describes- a man whose conduct is in accordance with any law in any country. He isn’t lawless or the source of lawlessness. He is like his Savior, loving righteousness and hating sin (Rom 12:9). He pays his taxes (Rom 13:7), and he prays for his government (1 Tim 2:1-2). He prays, he doesn’t speak evil of rulers (Acts 23:5). He is submissive to the government (1 Pet 2:13), and his behavior is excellent in his neighborhood (1 Pet 2:12). In short he is the model citizen because he loves his neighbors as himself (Gal 5:14) thus fulfilling every law on the planet.
Now that’s the description of just 1 person who has received Christ. Multiply that by 86 million and you’ll see my point. As it doesn’t reflect here, it must be because most of these 86M have not come to the Christ of the bible.
The Christ that transforms by giving a new life and making a new creation isn’t an abstract idea or a Christ of one’s own imagination or vision. It is the Christ revealed to us by God in Holy Scripture. And He is revealed as the Savior of sinners. Sinners, not poor people or barren people or people in search of one breakthrough or another, sinners!
Mark 1:15 provides a good summary of Jesus’ teaching ministry: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”
Even Luke’s summary in Luke 4:18ff isn’t talking about physical poverty or physical captivity. Else Paul received a different Jesus since he was often in captivity, and the Apostles preached the wrong Jesus since they encouraged people to sell their property to feed the poor in their midst. So much so that God made a big deal of Annanias lying about how much he sold a piece of property for the purpose of feeding the poor amongst them.
The Christ the bible offers is the one that abandons the 99 barren/poor/slaves to seek and save the 1 lost because of his sin (Luke 15). Christ came to seek the lost; without the sense of your lost condition without Christ, there’s nothing to motivate you to come to Him. After all, His call is to those who are heavily laden with sin (Matt 11:28). I don’t know of a healthy person in need of a doctor. There’s this proverb in my country that says: “no man goes to the witch doctor to ask why he is doing well in life”. Jesus Christ is for sinners and sinners only.
The story of the lost son in Luke 15 explains this well. The son from the time he stepped out of his father’s house was lost but didn’t realize it. Until one day, destitute, hungry, poor, sick, and near dead, he came to his senses and realized his lost condition and how dire his situation was. He was starving and perhaps pale and sick as well and was desperate for food to sustain his miserable life. He realized no one else was left to save him except his father, whom at this point he rightly saw as an employer. Notice he was going to his father to the end that he’ll have something to eat. And since he (the father) gave his employees food (Luke 15:17) he was happy to hire himself out as a servant in his father’s business. This is Jesus’ clear presentation of what the gospel is about and how to be saved. Since Adam sinned, we have all left our father’s house to a distant country and are living loosely and now we are all impoverished. Sin has ravaged our body, soul, and spirit, we are all spent. But instead of coming back to the father, the fountain of all good- through Jesus Christ His Son, the only way back to the father- we have all found for ourselves strangers to hire ourselves out to. This stranger isn’t Jesus of the bible. The Jesus of the bible transforms anyone who comes to him, he does not send them to feed swine. In addition, Jesus Christ is found only by him who has come to the end of himself. Tired, worn out by sin, and seeking rest from sin and the tyranny of Satan. He is found by a person who has seen his sin as it is clearly presented in the 10 commandments. Such a man is humbled by how much he has transgressed the 10 commandments and becomes afraid for his already lost life. This drives him to so much sorrow before God, crying and shaking as he contemplates his enormous sin before a thrice Holy God. He realizes he can’t go to God on his own merit, there is nothing in his hand, not even one good work to commend him to God. He believes this with his whole heart and with a contrite/broken and humble heart he considers the gospel and the free offer of grace to the lost, broken, humble sinners. He, by faith alone, apprehends and applies Christ with all his merits unto himself. This act of repentance and faith justifies him instantly before God, God sends His Spirit to his heart to begin the great work of transformation to the praise and glory of God’s name.
Friends, if this isn’t your experience, if you haven’t experienced the crushing and humbling power of the 10 commandments, if you haven’t come to your senses about your misery from sin and driven to the conviction of your absolute necessity of Christ, you haven’t come to the Christ freely offered in the gospel. You’ve received a false Christ and it’s evidenced in the lack of spiritual transformation and your inability to crucify your flesh with its passions and sinful desires (Gal 5:24).
But it’s not too late (except you put off consideration of what I’ve written thus far and you shun what the bible has written as evidence of a life in Christ for some other thing you’ve made up). Matt 11:28 is still for you. Acts 2:37-38, and Acts 16:30-31 tell you salvation is near you. Salvation is in Jesus Christ. Flee from the wrath of God, place yourself under the care of the Good Shepherd who laid down His life for the sheep, and engage your heart to worship and love God.