Mike Gerhardt, Beginning Well 10-13-18, Belief, John 3:16,
You only need to believe. ’89 Indiana Jones & Last Crusade. Some simple but profound truths: Coca-Cola was originally green; how does that make you feel? It is impossible to lick your elbow (50% try to lick their elbows after hearing this). Intelligent people have more zinc and copper in their hair, watch out for those gingers. I am, is the shortest proper sentence in English. Honey is the only food that doesn't spoil. And finally, the earth is round, spinning at 1,000 MPH, teetering on a 23.5 degrees axis, swinging its way around a burning mass of gas a billion times its size at 67,000 MPH; are you getting motion sickness? A round earth was hard to believe even labeled foolishness 600 years ago.
Over the next few weeks, I want to investigate the Seven Elements of a good conversion: belief, repentance, assurance, commitment, water baptism, Spirit's filling, and membership (four internal events in Christian conversion and three elements that enable the Christian convert).
You might be asking but when do I get saved? In his book Beginning Well based in historical theology, Gordon Smith wrote: Conversion is often thought of as a protracted experience that involves several distinct elements or events. But these events or elements are not to be referred to as steps or stages in a conversion… each person will experience them in a different way and in a different sequence, reflecting the unique manner in which the Spirit of God is at work in his or her life. The simple but profound truth is twofold: you must believe, and you must be transformed. Christians one-liners or what I call bumper sticker theology 101 (pictures) have communicated some simple but not altogether truthful statements: Just pray harder. Let go and let God. I found it, how about you? In case of rapture, the driver will vanish. Honk if you love Jesus, text if you want to see him; or honk if you want to disturb the peace. Prayer changes things. Accept Jesus into your heart. No Jesus no peace, know Jesus know peace. Save gas, walk with Jesus. A carpenter died and left you a fortune. Too blessed to be depressed.
Putting the Stud back in Bible Study.
Ron Hutchcraft reminded me of simple belief last week. Beslan, Russia in September 2004 joined the ranks of places known for the horror that happened there. Some can recall that three-day terrorist takeover and the violent deaths of hundreds of school children. During Beslan's horror, there emerged a photo that embodied hope amid death. It showed a girl's bloodied hand clutching a golden cross. Viktoria Ktsoyeva was hospitalized with shrapnel in her brain, but she survived. The fourteen-year-old said that she prayed each day while she was held captive, always clinging to her cross (pictures) even after being wounded in the violent end that killed more than 330 hostages. Even as she lost consciousness, she never let go of the cross. In Viktoria's own words, "I felt that if I had that cross in my hand, then everything would be okay." John 3:16 is almost as simple as Viktoria's faith. It has three simple parts even a child can understand: the description of God's love (it is perfect and sacrificial; I love ice cream but I wouldn't die for it; God so loved all the people for all time), the result of God's love (that God demonstrated that love so He gave His son Jesus to die on a cross in our place), the purpose of God's love (so that we not perish in hell but have eternal life in heaven, mercy to keep us from hell, grace to give us heaven as children of God). John uses the verb believe 99 times?? John 1:12 to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God. 3:36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them. 5:24 whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life. 6:35 Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. 6:40 For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life. 6:47 Very truly I tell you, the one who believes has eternal life. 11:25-26 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” 20:31 But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God and that by believing you may have life in his name.
How about the Acts of the Apostles: Acts 4:4 But many who heard the message believed; the number of men who believed grew to about five thousand. 4:31 All the believers were one in heart and mind. [Called believers at first and then Christians in Acts 11:26]. 8:12 But when they believed Philip (in Samaria) as he proclaimed the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized both men and women. 10:43 Peter to Cornelius: All the prophets testify about Jesus that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name. 13:38-39 Paul (in Antioch): Therefore, my friends, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. Through him everyone who believes is set free from every sin, a justification you were not able to obtain under the law of Moses. 16:30-31 The jailer to Paul and Silas: He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”
Belief builds a bridge from this life to the next. To believe does not mean to merely think, suppose or surmise; it is not only a mental inclination to accept. Belief in this context means to trust in, to rely upon, to cling to for life. Romans 10:9-10 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. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. Acts 13:48 When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honored the word of the Lord; and all who were appointed for eternal life believed. It is of God.
Ephesians 2:8-10 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God, not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works,
which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Belief is the end of blindness and the beginning of sight; the end of groping in the darkness and the beginning of walking in the light; the end of being lost and the celebration of being found; the end of a bad journey and the beginning a glorious one; the end of a wayward life and the beginning of a purpose-filled life; the end of being alone and the beginning of new relationship; the end of being abandoned and the beginning of being adopted by God the Father. Beginning well means to believe and to be transformed.
The importance of transformation: this is not your parent's religion seeping into you; you can't inherit belief. This is not a philosophical set of clothes; you're not putting on a new set of ideas or a new way of getting your act together. This is not a free trial period; if you don't like it return it and you have nothing to lose…as a matter of fact, you'll have everything to lose!! This is it. Believe or Not.
Recently I heard smoking is bad for humans and for mountains. When a mountain is smoking, it usually means it's about to blow its top. One of the most dramatic eruptions was Mount Saint Helen in Washington State. It devastated and recreated the landscape for many square miles. It blew a major portion of the mountain away. For three months in advance, the mountain kept sending out smoke and a big lava dome began to form. Everybody knew it was going to blow, including an old lodge owner named Harry Truman. But when everyone evacuated, Harry refused, no matter how many times he was warned. When the smoke finally cleared from that massive eruption, there was no trace of that lodge or that man. The tragedy of something like that is obvious; someone died who didn't have to die. Some might say: The volcano killed that man. It wasn't the volcano that killed him, it was his choice to ignore the danger. It is that very danger God is warning us in Hebrews 2:3: "How shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation?" God says, "I am providing a way for you to have life for all eternity instead of death-heaven instead of hell. If you ignore it, you will not escape. You are choosing the fire." Believe and be saved.