ACTS 20:21: “I have had one message for Jews and Greeks alike—the necessity of repenting from sin and turning to God, and of having faith in our Lord Jesus.” NLT
OBSERVATION: Whatever happened to sin? Have you noticed that the concept of sin is diminishing in both the world and the church? What we once understood as wrong is now embraced as normative. There is a blurring of the lines in our message today.
We have begun proclaiming – “Jesus Light.”
What is “Jesus light?” It is the Gospel of Jesus Christ without the call to repentance from sin and turning to God. It is the invitation to add Jesus to your life and continue living in the same lane. It is the message that you can turn to God without turning from your sin.
It is “Jesus Light!”
Paul proclaimed that he had only one message for both the Jews and the Gentiles. It was the necessity of repenting from sin, turning to God, and having faith in the Lord Jesus. Note the progression. To have faith in the Lord Jesus one needs to turn from their sin. To remain in sin and have faith in Jesus Christ was not a concept that Paul taught or held.
- “Don’t you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don’t fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality, or are thieves, or greedy people, or drunkards, or are abusive, or cheat people—none of these will inherit the Kingdom of God.” 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 NLT
When Paul says – “…those who do wrong…”, an understanding of the Greek is needed to see the impact of this statement. Paul is not saying that anyone who has sinned will not inherit the Kingdom of God. The construction of the Greek words “do wrong” shows an ongoing action. Those who continue to do wrong. Those who continue to live in their sin. In other words – those who never repented and turned to God!
If this meant those who sinned, we would all be destined for hell. All of us are sinners and have fallen short of the glory of God. Yet, to those who have repented, turned to God, and placed their faith in Jesus Christ, there is a radical change that takes place.
- “Some of you were once like that. But you were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” 1 Corinthians 6:11 NLT
Why is this so important? Without the knowledge of sin, there is no need for repentance. Without repentance, we feel no need to turn to God. Without turning to God there is no faith in Jesus Christ. And, without faith in Jesus Christ, there is no cleansing and salvation.
If the enemy of our souls can convince us that we can believe in Jesus and continue in our sin, he can trap us in a life of darkness that will ultimately lead to eternal death. Is this possible? Is it possible to convince oneself that you are a believer and be lost for eternity? I defer to Jesus to answer this question.
- “Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’” Matthew 7:21-23 NLT
Some may object – “Your preaching works righteousness!” Absolutely not! All I am doing is contending for the message of the Gospel to be proclaimed exactly the way Jesus proclaimed it.
- “Later on, after John was arrested, Jesus went into Galilee, where he preached God’s Good News. “The time promised by God has come at last!” he announced. “The Kingdom of God is near! Repent of your sins and believe the Good News!” Mark 1:14-15 NLT
This was the message of John the Baptist, Jesus, Peter, Paul, and the apostles. The message was never – “Give Jesus a chance,” or, “Ask Jesus into your heart.” The message was exactly as Paul described it.
- “…The necessity of repenting from sin and turning to God, and of having faith in our Lord Jesus.”
I am afraid that we have raised an entire generation under the wrong message. As more and more sectors of the church begin to embrace many sins as a normative way of life, we are at a breaking point. We must recapture the true Gospel message. We need to preach repentance from sin and faith in Jesus Christ. We must be bold in our call to repent and turn to God. The eternal lives of those who hear us are at stake.
Paul took this very seriously. In his understanding, he saw himself as a watchman on the wall. In Jewish law, if a watchman failed to warn the city of impending doom, he was guilty of the fate of all those he failed to warn. As Paul gave his closing farewell remarks to the Ephesian believers he stated,
- “And now I know that none of you to whom I have preached the Kingdom will ever see me again. I declare today that I have been faithful. If anyone suffers eternal death, it’s not my fault, for I didn’t shrink from declaring all that God wants you to know.” Acts of the Apostles 20:25-27 NLT
To proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ is an awesome responsibility. It is the call of death to life. It is the call to repent from sin, turn to God, and place one’s faith in Jesus Christ. Without repentance, there is no turning. Without turning there is no faith. And, without faith, there is no salvation.
God has established His moral law as a reflection of His holiness. We cannot simply subtract from it because we do not feel comfortable with it any longer. To do so is to diminish the very nature of God. What was sin in the Old Testament is still sin today. In fact, if we honestly read the entire Bible we will see that God’s holiness has neither an Old Testament nor New Testament framework. It is simply the revelation of who He is!
Lord, as I consider this I pray for boldness to speak Your truth in love. I do not want to shirk back from the full proclamation of Your Good News. You came to save us from our sin. If we change the definition of sin then we really do not need saving. Awaken my heart and awaken the church. Help us to proclaim the whole counsel of God through Jesus Christ to our world!
Lord, deliver the church from the message of “Jesus Light.”
In Jesus Name!