Monday, February 3, 2020

The journey with God

Recently I talked to a group who wanted to know more about evangelism and Salvation in the 21st century, and how these are affected by our postmodern culture.

The question is a vital one for all of us, not only because churches are struggling to be relevant in the present age, but because Salvation and evangelism have become taboos that many churches struggle to overcome, or even reach beyond, in a postmodern culture that is increasingly individualistic. 

 I wish I had a simple answer for such a question. Still, whilst I don’t, I am reminded that W. B. Fitzgerald once summarized John Wesley’s understanding of Salvation in what became known as the “Four Alls” of the historic Methodist movement. 
These statements were formed from what was understood about evangelism for almost three centuries, in many countries and across many denominations.

The “Four Alls” are as follows:
All need to be saved 
All can be saved 
All can know they are saved
All can be saved completely[1]

I want to explore each one of them a little, to help us to understand the meaning behind them.

All need to be saved
The first “all” reminds us that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God[2]”. No matter how good or how bad you think that you, or the next person are, we all need to be saved - we all need Salvation, and what we need can only be found in Jesus. 

All can be saved
Often, I have judged other people, thinking that they were lost causes, but when I did this, I was not seeing my own position truthfully;  without Jesus I was as lost as them, precisely the same as anyone else. There is no one too good who does not need to be saved, no-one who can be saved by default, and there is no one so terrible or so lost, that the sacrifice that Jesus made on the cross cannot save them.
The Apostle Paul affirms that God “desires everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth[3]”.

All can know they are saved
Unfortunately, many people live without the hope that comes from knowing that there is salvation in Christ Jesus.  This reality only becomes known to us when we walk with Him, as our Saviour.
The Bible says “For you did not receive the Spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’ The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God[4]”.

So, when we are with Jesus, we can have the assurance of Salvation, the confidence that we belong to God and that we are His children, sons and daughters in Christ. 

All can be saved completely
The last ‘all’ talks about how a person can be saved completely, or to the uttermost. Salvation in Christ is not just a ticket for avoiding hell or emptiness, but a work that will transform us from inside out.

God reminds us many times in the Bible that when we are with Christ, we are a new creation, having a new position in the eyes of God; that the “old has passed and the new has come”[5]

As we walk with Jesus, we will continue to renew our minds, being filled with more of God. Through this process, we will be controlled less by our sinful nature and more by the Holy Spirit. This process is not forced or artificial, rather it is based on the natural development of our relationship with Jesus.

So…. let’s go out there and share the good news that Jesus has died our death; that He paid the price for our forgiveness and gave us His life in the process. Go and share the gospel with everyone, in all circumstances possible, and trust in the work that God will do in the lives of the people that you tell about Jesus!

[1] W. B. Fitzgerald, The roots of Methodism (London: The Epworth), p. 173.   
[2] Romans 3.23
[3] 1 Timothy 2.4
[4] Romans 8.15-16
[5] 2 Corinthians 5.17

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