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by Jacob Ninan
Many are confused by the controversies going around about Jesus. "How could He have been born of a virgin? Perhaps He didnít actually die on the cross, but just swooned and woke up later and the disciples spread a story about His so-called resurrection. Can you really believe in these modern days that He walked on water, or fed 5000 people from just a few loaves and fish? All these talks about Jesus casting out demons--we know these are all ancient folklore, donít we? And coming to the Bible, who can believe that God actually created the world in six days, when modern scientific research has shown that evolution took billions of years? The Bible is so full of errors that nobody can actually believe it!" The arguments against the Bible and Jesus go on and on.
But the fact remains that many people all around the world are getting saved by faith in Jesus! The proof for Jesus and the Bible, which tells us about Jesus, is that in some supernatural way that no one is able to de-mystify, peopleís lives are actually being transformed when they come in faith to Jesus. People from all kinds of backgrounds are rising from hopelessness and bondage to hope, freedom and joy! There was a time when Jesus healed a man born blind and sceptics were trying to identify some explanation that could disprove the miracle. But they couldnít account for the irrefutable fact that the man, everyone around knew had been born blind, was standing in front of them! Even now miracles of people being born again and experiencing changed lives are there around us, which all those who proclaim not to believe in the Bible or Jesus cannot deny!
But, at the same time, it is also a fact that so many who claim to have faith in Jesus have nothing really to show in their lives except a change of beliefs or routines such as going to church. They say that they used to believe and do such and such things before and now they believe and do different things. But inwardly they seem to be the same people that they used to be before, and they donít seem to be much different from other people around them except in the matter of what they believe and the Ďritualsí they follow. This is really sad. Somehow, somewhere along the way, they seem to have missed the real experience of being born again and they now seem to be living with a cheap counterfeit.
My aim is not to find fault with them. But I hope that such people will recognise that they have really missed something and start looking for the genuine experience of salvation.
The Broad And Narrow Gates
Jesus spoke about the narrow gate through which we have to enter, and then a narrow path along which we have to walk in order to come to Ďlifeí (Matt.7:13,14). He said very few would find them, implying that a larger number of people would be on the broad path that would really lead them to destruction in the end. Is it enough for us to apply this truth as differentiating between Ďthose who have accepted Christí and those who havenít? If someone says he has built his house on the rock that is Christ, and still it collapses in the storm, wonít he have to check if he had only been imagining so far that it was rock (Matt. 7:26,27)? Isnít it possible, as we have been seeing earlier, that many of those who now consider themselves to be on the way to life, because Ďthey have accepted Christ,í are actually still not on the right path?
Fortunately, there is still time to examine ourselves honestly and make corrections, if needed. None of us wants to live in self-deception and discover it only on the Day of Judgment.
The sign of a healthy tree is that it bears good fruit (Matt.7:17). If we say that we have accepted Jesus as our Saviour, our life should show some fruit that identifies Jesus. Let us look at some of these fruit.
a. Love for Jesus. This is a personal love for Jesus, wanting to know Him more, to spend more time with Him, to hear Him speaking to us, to know what He wants us to do, to know what He thinks about us, etc. We are in love with Jesus because He loved us first, and gave Himself for us even when we are apart from Him so that He could have us with Him. We are grateful to Him for suffering in our place and then blotting away all our sins, and we want to somehow show our gratitude by becoming pleasing to Him and telling others about Him. If this kind of change hasnít taken place, the chances are that we donít know Him personally, and that we have missed the personal experience of knowing Him as our Saviour.
b. Hatred for sin. Jesus came to save us from our sins, and one thing He does, after washing away our past record of sin, is to give us a new heart that hates sin. When we are born again, we find that we donít like to do those sins any more. We donít want to sin any more, and we start a battle to overcome sin when we are tempted, seeking understanding and help from God. It is not that we suddenly stop sinning, but that we have started to fight against sin, instead of giving in to temptation as in the past. If this transition has not happened inside us, the chances are that our experience has missed the mark.
c. Love for the things of God. We find new desires and interests coming up from within us, such as for reading the Bible, praying, meeting with other Christians, telling others about Jesus and what He has done for us, etc. "Things we used to do, we do them no more," as we find our interests changing to things and people of God. This causes a conflict with our old friends, and our old way of doing things. This is yet another fruit of the work of God in our lives when we come to Jesus in faith and are born again.
There is a time for growth, of course, and in some cases these fruit are not seen immediately. But if they are not seen even after some time, there is really need for great concern.
Explanations For Lack Of Fruit
a. Not seeing ourselves as sinners. Isnít there a big difference between seeing ourselves as sinners like everyone else, more or less, and recognising that our sins are so bad in Godís eyes that, if Jesus hadnít come, we would be in hell? In the first case, we think that of course we donít want to go to hell and so we will ask Jesus to forgive us. But in the second case, we are so thankful that Jesus came for us and gave His life for us! This is a difference between life and death.
b. Not seeing what it cost Jesus. If all God wanted us to do was to live a little better, Jesus didnít have to come and die for us. He could have sent us some more prophets. But the punishment for sin is death and complete cut-off from God, and Jesus went through them both, in our place because of His love for us. If we have really seen this in our heart and mind, our reasonable response would be to yield ourselves entirely and without reservation to Him (Rom.12:1). The question is whether we have allowed the fact about Jesusí suffering and death to touch our innermost being, or we have just accepted is as a part of history.
c. Not willing to yield to Jesus. Many want all the blessings from Jesus, but have not been willing to yield themselves to Him and recognise Him as Lord in their lives. Many are willing to look at what Jesus says, but are willing to do them only if they Ďagreeí with them. Many even treat Jesus like a servant who should run to their help whenever they call for Him! This is a clear indication of the fact that their spiritual eyes have not yet been opened to see Him for who He is. The other thing is that there is really no trust in Jesus.
d. Coming to Jesus for the wrong reasons. Without understanding the real meaning of the Gospel, many are turning to Jesus only for miracles, solution for their problems, or thrilling experiences. Jesus is good and kind at heart, and may meet their needs. But they make a mistake if they assume that, just because they have received some help from Jesus, they have also experienced salvation!
Whether we are seekers or preachers, or those who have so far assumed certain wrong things about salvation, let us avoid these kinds of mistakes. There is a true Gospel, and a true gate and path that lead to salvation; we should make sure that we are not misled or misleading others.
-- Published in the Light of Life magazine, May 2012
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