Decision? … or Commitment?? November 2, 2014Posted by stevekerp in Discipleship, spiritual wealth.
Kyle Idleman is an author and also the teaching pastor of Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, Kentucky. In Not A Fan, he asks the question: “Have you ‘made a decision’ for Jesus? or have you committed to Jesus?”
There is a difference. There shouldn’t be. But there is a difference. Many have made a decision to believe in Jesus without making a commitment to follow Jesus. The gospel allows for no such distinction. Biblical belief is more than mental assent or verbal acknowledgment. Many fans have repeated a prayer or raised their hand or walked forward at the end of a sermon and made a decision to believe, but there was never a commitment to follow. Jesus never offered such an option. He is looking for more than words of belief; he’s looking to see how those words are lived out in your life. When we decide to believe in Jesus without making a commitment to follow him, we become nothing more than fans.
Biblical belief is more than just an intellectual acceptance or a heartfelt acknowledgment; it is a commitment to follow. Following by definition requires more than mental assent, it calls for movement. One of the reasons our churches can become fan factories is that we have separated the message of “believe” from the message “follow.” After separating the two messages, they get out of balance.
I’m not saying that following is more important than believing. What I am saying is that the two are firmly connected. They are the heart and lungs of faith. One can’t live without the other. Following is part of believing. To truly believe is to follow.”
Not surprisingly, Kyle has come under fire for teaching the “heretical doctrine of Lordship salvation.” I did not come away from his book with the idea that he believes we earn our salvation by doing works or any other such thing. I don’t believe, and I don’t read that Kyle believes, that we are saved because we decide to be saved, or that we either get saved or stay saved by our own efforts or merits.
Jesus asks the question in Luke 6:46 –
But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?”
How does one answer that question? “Well, I didn’t really want to obey you. I just didn’t want to go to hell.” I suppose the real question is, “Do you love Jesus enough to obey Him?” Because, if one does not love Jesus Christ, nothing else really matters (see 1 Corinthians 16:22).
Kyle did not have to make the case for obedience. In fact, he’s not coming up with anything new; he’s just reminding us of what James says about the uselessness of a purported “faith” that produces no works (See James 2:17-22).
But a passage sometimes overlooked in the discussion is in Hebrews 11:6 –
But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”
The word translated “rewarder” (μισθαποδότης – misthapodotēs) only appears here in the New Testament. It isn’t in the context of getting saved or “staying saved” (a problematic concept, to be sure). Let’s face it, no matter how tepid one’s faith, there is no doubt some work that has proceeded from it. So if one argues that saving faith always produces a change in one’s life, it’s really hard to find disagreement. I argue (and I believe Kyle is arguing) that to live a life that pleases God, one must live a life of obedient pursuit of Christ; vigorous, consistent and joyful submission to His discipline. I would add that Jesus DESERVES to be loved, and DESERVES to be obeyed.
That’s where the joy is, and THAT’S WHERE THE REWARDS ARE! I suspect that many of us are given a taste of earthly poverty so we will know what it feels like, and we will be motivated to lay up treasure in heaven. If you don’t like being poor here, you sure won’t enjoy it for eternity.
This is not a salvation issue. If anything, it’s a maturity issue. The lie (remember: these are the days of deception) is that Jesus did it ALL – that all He expects of us is to crank back in our Lay-Z-Boy recliners, trust Him to take care of us, and wait for the rapture – and that perhaps doing good works is legalism against which Paul preached, and which is at its core an affront to the grace of God. The truth is that Jesus did for us only those things that we could not and cannot do for ourselves … and He will even help us with the rest.
“Obedience” is not a spiritual gift, my dear friends. Satan’s effort is to give Jesus an eternal daycare center full of immature, bottle-sucking Christianettes. Jesus calls us to maturity: to GROW UP in all things in Christ (Ephesians 4:13-15). THAT, I believe, is the core of Not A Fan and that is the core of the podcast going forward. I want to be outrageously wealthy when I get to Heaven, and I want you to join me.