About Jesus Steve Sweetman
In An Experience?
following is a paraphrase of a real conversation I had with a good
friend. Names have been
changed to protect the innocent, and maybe the not so innocent.
and I sipped our coffee at a local coffee shop.
A TV on the wall behind me captivated the imagination of the
young men at the next table. Women's
beach volleyball tends to do that, if you know what I mean.
looked at Roger a bit confused. "I
thought Ron was a Christian".
is", answered Roger.
what you've just said, I'm beginning to wonder about that", I
he had an experience with the Lord a couple of years back.
He's also a part of our church's men's group", Roger said.
experience with the Lord? What
exactly does that mean"? My
mind shifted into overdrive. I
sensed a sermon was about to speed down the runway of my spirit and
explode from my lips.
Nowhere in the New Testament does a so-called experience with the
Lord constitute salvation. What
is an experience with the Lord anyway?
Spiritual type sensations and emotions can easily be aroused
within a person by a talented worship team and a well skilled preacher.
Is that a valid experience
with Jesus? Don't get me
wrong. People can sense the
presence of the Holy Spirit in a gathering of the saints, but again,
does that constitute salvation? And
by the way, simply repeating a sinner's prayer doesn’t necessarily
constitute salvation either".
stopped for a breath, hoping to slow down the speed of my sermon, but it
didn't work. I was only
preaching to Roger, not the guys watching girl's beach volleyball, even
though my message was more important than their present obsession.
Ron did have a genuine experience with Jesus", inserted Roger.
maybe he did, but remember those in the Laodicean church of Revelation
3:14 to 22"?
me", replied Roger.
stood knocking on the door of their hearts. His
presence was that close to
them. Did the closeness of
His presence; did that experience, constitute their salvation"?
they didn't hear Jesus knocking", replied Roger.
but the text implies that He had been knocking for a while and was about
ready to leave in frustration. Some
scholars say that the Greek word translated as "knock" in this
passage means "to pound with a heavy blow".
Remember, Jesus was upset with these guys.
This was no gentle knock. As
a fireman pounds on the door of a burning house to wake those sleeping
inside, so Jesus pounded on the door to wake these sleepy Laodiceans.
His pounding was a warning of coming judgment.
I suggest they had an experienced with Jesus".
thought of it that way", answered Roger as he sipped his coffee.
could have knocked on the door of their hearts until His knuckles fell
off. That wouldn't have
saved those guys from being spit out of His mouth as He said He'd do if
things didn't change. Salvation
would only come to them once they opened the door, had a serious
consultation with Jesus, and then counted the cost of the renovations
Jesus planned for their lives."
took another sip of coffee. The
guys beside us were still engaged in women's beach volleyball. They
didn't seem at all interested in our conversation.
I wonder why.
constitutes salvation Roger"?
sure you'll tell me", Roger answered.
to the New Testament, when one finally recognizes the sinful depraved
person he is, which many churches don't teach any more, he tells Jesus
that he's fed up with it all. He
hands His life over to Jesus and says, 'here's my wretched life.
Even the best part of me needs divine help.
Do with me as you wish, but please give me your Holy Spirit.
Without Him I know I'll take my life back in no time'.
In theological terms Roger, this is called repenting, believing,
and receiving. The
combination of these three constitutes salvation.
Anything less saves no one".
shook his head. "I
wonder if the Holy Spirit lives within Ron".
better. In Romans 8:9 Paul
says that if the Holy Spirit doesn't live in us, we don't belong to
Jesus. This is one serious
issue. Did anyone tell Ron these things"?
sure hope someone did", replied Roger.
I wouldn't hope about this. You
better talk to Ron. If he
thinks he's saved when he's not, he's in bad shape.
And those who told him he was saved when he's not, are in bad
shape too. It's like a
doctor telling you that you don't have a heart condition when you do
have one. You continue to
live the same old unhealthy life as you always have until you drop dead
on the sidewalk. It's a bit
late for the doctor to warn you about your heart condition then".
what the apostle James said Roger? Faith
without works is dead. If
someone has real faith, there will be some kind of evidence of faith in
his life. If there's not
even a trace of evidence, I'd question his faith and his salvation, no
matter how many experiences he may have had.
An experience with Jesus is not the end of the matter of
salvation. It's the first
step towards the beginning of the matter of salvation.
Experience alone doesn’t constitute salvation Roger".
beach volleyball was over, and so was my sermon.
The guys at the next table left before I had a chance to pass the
offering plate. Isn't that
the normal procedure after the sermon?
last point Roger. In 2
Corinthians 7:10 Paul said that Godly sorrow produces real repentance.
When someone really recognizes his sinful state of depravity, it
will stun him to the core. He'll
be serious about repenting, serious about trusting his life with Jesus,
and serious about receiving the Holy Spirit.
You'd think if Ron had been that serious about these things, we
wouldn't be having this conversation today.