Something that’s really been hitting home with me is the concept of responding to the gospel. I feel like there is an epidemic among American Christians, especially in the Bible belt. There’s a stereotype that many unfortunately affirm: go to church as kid, sit through service until college, do your own thing through school, get married, have kids, start going to church again, they get involved and the cycle starts over. So many times we hear the stories, we know the facts, we know the Bible…but that’s it. Our faith is one of action. It calls and convicts response.
Initially upon hearing the gospel, a response is demanded. Romans 10:9-13,”That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. As the Scripture says, “Anyone who trusts in Him will never be put to shame.” For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile-the same Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on Him, for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Matthew 4, Mark 1, and Luke 5 all state “follow me.” Luke 9:23 and Matthew 16:24 instruct us to take up our cross daily. The Bible is full of verbs–actions. James 2:17 says faith without deeds is dead. Now don’t read this wrong: we are not saved by our works, we are saved through faith and through that comes works for God. A response is made. We respond to the gospel by turning our heart and life over to God. Through salvation and the cross we are given life and in turn we give that life back over to God to use for His glory.
Once saved, we strive after Christlikeness. Take a look at Jesus-He didn’t just sit and chill in all His awesomeness and bask in the fact that He was God and man. He came not to be served, but to serve (Matthew 20:28). He lived a life of action and faith, doing God’s will until the end of His life here on Earth as man (Luke 22:42). If we are disciples and have been saved by grace, our response should be the same. Initially our reaction to the gospel will be a response of “yes” or “no”, once that answer is a yes to Jesus, then our response is one of faith, repentance, and handing over the control to God. We are free from the captivity of our old sins and respond by turning from continually living in them. Yes we will still sin, but that does not define our life anymore.
Even once we are saved, so many times we don’t respond daily. We make the one big response, say the prayer, tell the pastor, shake everyone’s hand, get dunked and call it done. NO. It is a daily decision. Continually we commit to Christ and not to our former sins and walking in them. On the flip side of this though, if we sit and study and are full of information about the Bible and who God is and know the gospel backwards and forwards yet do nothing, we are nothing more than some Jesus monk or a theologically knowledgeable hermit. Its selfish when you think about it also. If you know Christ and you get discipleship yet share nothing, what good is that doing God? How is that making great of what He has done? That is so NOT what he has called us to do. I know I’m on a soap box right now, but I’m in the dog house with this too. It gets so easy to just sit back and let you and God do your thing and be learning and growing, but if you’re not applying anything or doing what He’s calling you to do and simply being lazy, what message is that sending to God or the people that are following you and watching how you do life? *Slap to the face for ya girl here*
While digging into this and researching, I looked up the definitions of reaction and reflex. A reaction is an action performed or a feeling experienced in response to a situation or event. A reflex is an action performed to a stimulus and without conscious thought. A reaction is intentional, a reflex is automatic and involuntary. I think our initial response to the gospel is a reaction and every day we wake up we react to it and react to what God is teaching us or where He’s leading us. I think a reflex is the change within us that comes from this reaction. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says we are a new creation in Christ. That is automatic and involuntary. When God steps in and cleans house on your heart, that is His doing-not ours. God graciously comes in and flips the switch because of what His Son did on the cross and. Aftermath of that also is we gain the Holy Spirit and our actions are produced from that. We make the conscious decision everyday to life for God. Our reflex to this is progressing towards Christlikeness, godly traits, and God’s plan for how He wants to use you. We can’t change our hearts, that’s God’s doing-that’s a reflex to the stimulus of Him doing Him.
Now I don’t have all the answers or the best scripture references for this, but this has been a recurring topic with me and I think something that is vital and important and that I need to keep in the back of my mind always. Responding to God isn’t a one and done decision. This is an everyday thing, I think that’s why we call it walking with God. It is an consistent action, daily response of faith and repentance. Some days its an Usain Bolt paced run with God, while other times its more of a baby giraffe balance walk…either way, still moving. Wherever you are with God right now, you have a decision to make. Respond to the gospel through a reaction to how He’s convicting you, with the reflex of falling more in love with Him and a change of heart and life through Him. Jesus is meeting you where you are, wherever that may be. That’s the beauty of all of this. Respond in faith, because I mean, what good is having the key and never unlocking the door?