I hear this a great deal these days; ‘God loves you!’ as an evangelistic statement to the lost. We must be careful not to give the impression that God’s saves us!
And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, (see Numbers 21:4-9) even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. John 3:14-17
Another common statement I hear when confronting someone in their lost state they will respond with, ‘God knows my heart,’ as if to mean that since God sees how sincere we are in our love for Him, that is what counts. Where do we read this in the scriptures?
An accurate description of what it means to love the Lord and God’s love towards us can be found in John 14:21 –
He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.
John the Baptist and Jesus never evangelized using God’s love or took into consideration our (sincere) love for Him, so neither should we. In fact, they said things like,
Repent or perish!
Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!
The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel!
What is repentance?
A good analogy to understand repentance was given when Jesus told of the story commonly referred to as the prodigal son; Luke 11:15-32. Repentance is when we ‘come to the end of ourselves’ and realize our wrongdoing towards God. When we repent we remove ourselves from the place of sin and disobedience in commitment to turn to God’s Word to live by it. Our mind is changed in that we no longer live to serve ourselves but we live to serve God.
When we repent and only when we repent will we receive the Holy Spirit, or be born again (John 3.) to become new creations in Christ; 2 Cor 5:17-19.
Consider this passage carefully –
For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together. Romans 8:13-17.
How many congregations and believers are out there who are loyal to their churches and sincerely believe in Jesus – but have never repented and are still dead in their sins! Too many I am afraid.
No child of God will continue in sin because we are led by the Spirit who leads us out of darkness into the light. And all who are saved will quickly identify what is sin and of darkness. How many (sincere believers) are oblivious to what is of the world or has the appearance of evil let alone outright evil?
The truth of the sad state we are in, is we need to preach the Gospel of the kingdom – to believers in Christ just as much as to those outside.