Tuesday, June 12, 2007
As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance (1 Peter 1:14).
THE SCRIPTURES DO NOT TEACH that the Person of Jesus Christ nor any of the important offices which God has given Him can be divided or ignored according to the whims of men. Therefore, I must be frank in my feeling that a notable heresy has come into being throughout our evangelical Christian circles - the widely accepted concept that we humans can choose to accept Christ only because we need Him as Savior and we have the right to postpone our obedience to Him as Lord as long as we want to!
This concept has sprung naturally from a misunderstanding of what the Bible actually says about Christian discipleship and obedience. It is now found in nearly all of our full gospel literature. I confess that I was among those who preached it before I began to pray earnestly, to study diligently and meditate with anguish over the whole matter. I think the following is a fair statement of what I was taught in my early Christian experience and it certainly needs a lot of modifying and a great many qualifiers to save us from being in error:
"We are saved by accepting Christ as our Savior;
we are sanctified by accepting Christ as our Lord;
we may do the first without doing the second!"
The truth is that salvation apart from obedience is unknown in the sacred Scriptures. Peter makes it plain that we are "chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit for obedience" (1 Peter 1:2). What a tragedy that in our day we often hear the gospel appeal made on this kind of basis: "Come to Jesus! You do not have to obey anyone. You do not have to change anything. You do not have to give up anything, alter anything, surrender anything, give back anything - just come to Him and believe in Him as Savior!" So they come and believe in the Savior. Later on, in a meeting or conference, they will hear another appeal: "Now that you have received Him as Savior, how would you like to take Him as Lord?"
The fact that we hear this everywhere does not make it right. To urge men and women to believe in a divided Christ is bad teaching for no one can receive half of Christ, or a third of Christ, or a quarter of the Person of Christ! We are not saved by believing in an office nor in a work.
I heard well-meaning workers say, "Come and believe on the finished work." That work will not save you. The Bible does not tell us to believe in an office or a work, but to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, the Person who has done that work and holds those offices.
Now, note again, Peter's emphasis on obedience among the scattered and persecuted Christians of his day.
It seems most important to me that Peter speaks of his fellow Christians as "obedient children." He was not giving them a command or exhortation to be obedient. In effect, he said, "Assuming that you are believers, I therefore gather that you are also obedient. So now, as obedient children, do so and so."
- A. W. Tozer
( from the book I Call It Heresy! )