Drippings from the Honeycomb
More to be desired are [the rules of the Lord] than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb. (Psalm 19:10)
*To self-realize is to become who you want to become through mental envisionment.
I recently came across an ‘interesting’ presentation of the Gospel. (Sadly it is all too common as a bit of research revealed and common knowledge attests). It may be said to be a presentation of the ‘self-realized Gospel.’ It goes something like this:
[after a list of questions, including “Do you believe that Jesus is your lamb?”]
“Did you give the right answers to these questions? Do you believe your answers to be true? If so, then the Bible says Jesus has paid the punishment for your sin. He is your Saviour. You will never have to be afraid of the Second Death or the Lake of Fire…”
[then it adds there is “one more important thing to say” and provides what it calls a thank you prayer or a type of sinner’s pray]
Simpler versions of this would include ‘Jesus died for you, you just need to believe that to be saved’ or ‘God is love, you just need to accept His love to be saved,’ etc.
I have no doubt many who put forward this sort of message are well-intentioned. There is certainly much orthodox truth in what they say. There is belief that we must confess to be true in order to be saved (our sinfulness, Jesus as Saviour, His death and resurrection, being the most basic). The shortcoming is ‘what must I do to be saved?’ It is not to passively give mental assent to something. It is not to rely on your own work of mental understanding. It is not presumptuous.
This message is put forward and then we wonder why people don’t change or fall away—they’ve never believed! This message may have become popularized because of self-realization in broader culture (eastern religions), New Thought/Word of Faith, making the Gospel more palatable to a non-Christian public and doctrinal illiteracy. Whatever the reason, it sadly isn’t the Gospel.
We know this is not the Gospel by knowing the Gospel itself and also by knowing heresy.
The Gospel in the Opening of Acts
“Anyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Acts 2:21)
“Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:38)
Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord…” (Acts 3:19–20a)
The self-realized Gospel may be considered as a sub-form of Socinianism. Apart from holding some very unorthodox views, Socinius (1539–1604) taught that one is saved merely through mental assent to certain doctrines. While the self-actualized Gospel is often very orthodox it shares this ‘assenting’ in common. But even the demons believe, James tells us, but they are not saved!
Socinianism in this broad sense is alive and well, embraced by many (like one I spoke to yesterday, last week, people who sit in the pews, the wider nominal Christian public).
In conclusion, a self-realized Gospel relies on self and mental assent. The Gospel comes with empty hands and relies completely on Jesus. It is a declaration that calls sinners to actively repent and believe. We repent, feeling sorrow for our sins, turning from them to Jesus. We believe, meaning we trust in Jesus to save us and cry out to Him for mercy.
So let us help each other more clearly share the Gospel and may many be saved by it.
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