A very kind elderly gentleman at a Baptist church in central London explained to me quite simply a primary difference between a Baptist and other lanes of Christianity.
“We aren’t particularly popular among the masses for the very simple reason that we ask people to make a choice for God. We ask them to make that commitment to Jesus and they feel it should simply be given freely with no effort on their part. It’s the choice. The choice is what sets us apart.”
How many people do you know who feel their place in Heaven is assured simply by believing that there is a God? I know many. I know some who feel their salvation is imminent because their parents were Christians.
“I don’t know if there is a god, like THE god in the bible, but I do believe there is a higher power who watches over us. I can’t say that it is the Christian god for sure though.”
This type of comment is typical of those who wish to have the belief without the effort. They want fire insurance but do not care for the personal sacrifice that it will take to let Jesus be real in their lives. They want a faith that will not offend.
It has almost become cliché for pastors to point out how offensive our faith truly is to
nonbelievers—but it doesn’t make it any less true. Our faith says that many will go to hell. And that offends people regardless of how true it is.
Let’s face it: It is hard to give up sin. It is hard. Sin is fun while we are engaged in it; it only stinks afterwards when we face the consequences through guilt, a spiritual deficiency and possibly physical ailments.
Must we actually make a choice for God? Or is the choice made for us?
I sit in awe as I read Genesis and see how it outlines the early dealings between God and man. By the time we get to Abraham, God has a plan, but man is still learning how to deal and interact with God. God manifests himself to Abraham both from the Heavens and in human form. He gives Abraham opportunities to follow him. God goes so far as to ask Abraham to sacrifice his only son. And then guess what? Abraham chooses to obey him.
God reveals Himself to Abraham and promises the impossible in return for Abraham’s faith. He reveals Himself also to Isaac and Jacob but for each of them a faith in God does not seem to be an inherent trait that they are born with. God proclaims His promise to them and they in turn choose to follow.
All three of these men sin. Each of them fail to live up to God’s standard and yet they remain in God’s grace. Abraham twice presents his wife as his sister out of self preservation. Isaac does the same. Jacob deceives his brother and father and neglects his wife. But God still fulfills his promises to them because they have chosen to follow Him. They choose to live where God wants them to live and take the wives God wants them to take.
Perhaps it all relied to some extent on the willingness of these men in the early stages of the Bible to choose a life that would honor God. There could come from this a great debate about free will versus predestination. But I believe all of these men throughout the Bible had a choice. A choice to follow God or follow man. A choice to live for God’s glory or for their own gain. By choosing the way of righteousness they accepted their role in God’s plan for the Salvation of Man.
God could have and surely would have used others of course had these men fallen to the wayside, but they didn’t and He didn't. And because of the choices made in these early years of history a prophecy was given and fulfilled through our Lord Jesus Christ in whom we find our salvation.