What a title, eh?
My wife and I are reading through David Platt’s mega-hit book Radical, a New York Times Bestseller. It is ironic that this book is a bestseller considering its content so far. We are into chapter 5 of 9 and tonight’s reading is leaving us both questioning the very concept of salvation that Western Christianity is known for.
Here is the best way I can put it:
Western Christians like to focus on only the death and resurrection of Jesus and not the ministry of Jesus. We take the full belief or faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus because that is something beneficial to us. We are saved from our erring ways that do not line up with the way God intended us to live and sets us in proper relationship with Him so we can spend eternity with Him in a place called heaven where there will be no more pain and suffering.
But there was more to Jesus than His death and resurrection. This is the premise of David Platt’s book. Jesus demands a faith in His teachings that is radical in our culture. The rich young ruler in Luke 16 is equivalent to American materialism and we are guilty of clinging to the false security of our things instead of the promises of God such as Matthew 6:33 “See first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added unto you.” Those things are not extravagances but food, drink, and clothing.
So what Platt’s book is doing to me is basically smacking me around to where I honestly believe that most Christian’s are going to hell. We love to talk about God’s grace being freely given and freely received but that is not the case. If you believe the message of the cross: that we are all sinners, that we cannot earn the right to live forever with God in perfect creation, and that God came to earth as the man Jesus – living, dying, and being raised from the dead to demonstrate the power of God over the grave; then you do not just receive God’s grace when you believe. If your faith is only for yourself then you missed the entirety of the gospel. You are selfish in your pursuit of salvation and you are not saved. The salvation of God is not for you, but for all. (John 3:17; When you believe the gospel you receive a commission. Go and make disciples. Freely you have received, freely give. You pursue holiness because God is holy (1 Peter 1:16) and in your pursuit of holiness (James 1:27b) you make sure not to neglect the widows and orphans (James 1:27a) and to remember the poor (Galatians 2:10). Honestly, if what I am saying is true then I am going to hell as well (see Matthew passage below). Do people know who you belong to by your love for one another? (John 13:35) Here are a couple of passages to leave you with to justify my heading:
What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can his faith save him? If a brother or sister is without clothes and lacks daily food and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well,” but you don’t give them what the body needs, what good is it? In the same way faith, if it doesn’t have works, is dead by itself. But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without works, and I will show you faith from my works. You believe that God is one; you do well. The demons also believe – and they shudder.
James 2:14-19 (HCSB)
And here is the kicker:
31 “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy[a] angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. 33 And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 35 for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; 36 I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? 38 When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? 39 Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ 40 And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’
41 “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels:42 for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; 43 I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’
44 “Then they also will answer Him,[b] saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’ 45 Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ 46 And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
Matthew 25:31-46 New King James Version (NKJV) http://www.biblegateway.com