For years I’ve thought of salvation as an experience, and found it easy to share my experience of how Christ introduced me to Himself, putting the focus on what happened to me.
Chambers challenges that approach to sharing the Gospel. He says salvation is the great thought of God. While I wonder how that came from this verse, I know this devotional writer is proclaiming a truth that I need to hear . . .
For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? (1 Peter 4:17)
Salvation is a work of God. It is so incredible that most of who are saved can scarcely think about it for very long. It is something like trying to grasp the idea of an endless space and an eternal God. I’m not equipped to wrap my head around such a lofty concept.
Chambers says my ‘experience’ is merely the gateway by which salvation came into my conscious life. At those words, deep rejoicing comes into my heart! He also says not to preach (or teach) the experience, but the great thought of God behind it. That is, rather than proclaim how sinners can be saved from eternal damnation and be given a wonderful new life, I am to convey good news about God love for sinners and His grace to devise a way to draw us into His kingdom.
Again, the way of salvation is so incredible that even those who believe and accept it often shake their heads at the wonder of it. It is simple enough for a child to understand, yet deep enough to keep the most mature mind endlessly occupied.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” (John 3:16–18)
Jesus also says about that condemnation: “And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed.” (John 3:19–20)
This incredible good news about God is not rejected because it is too incredible to believe; it is rejected because no one wants to admit their need for it. Instead of realizing the element of judgment is a sign of God’s love, it is considered an indication of His ‘meanness’ and a reason to blame Him for our difficulties.
Chambers says to look past the reasons people give for their lack of faith; just tell them the good news about God and His great love in offering eternal life to all. The Spirit of God will show the hearers what is wrong and convince them of their need.
I need to remember that the test in preaching or teaching or sharing the Gospel is that everyone deserves judgment, including me. I cannot lord it over others or look down on those who reject this wonderful message. I also go my own way and resist God. Without His Spirit, I cannot yield in any obedience nor can I worship Him.
Everyone needs Jesus, and as Chambers says, every element of self-reliance must be slain by the power of God. Complete weakness and dependence will always be fertile ground for the Spirit of God to manifest His power.
This is why the good news is news must focus on what God has thought and done, not about my experience with His saving power. My story is not the power of salvation. It is the story of Jesus Christ that brings people to their knees before God.