“What must I do to be saved?”
As Dr. Bruce said, there are students and JBU professors who would provide so confusing of an answer (or a false, works-based answer or no answer at all) to this question that the desperate sinner would remain in darkness. “Believe in Jesus,” Dr. Bruce said. Believe that the Son of God came down to earth to take the punishment for your sins. It’s not believe and be good enough. It’s believe and know that you will never be good enough on your own, and that Christ’s life, his death on the cross, and God’s grace are enough.
As Dr. Bruce spoke these bold truths in chapel last Thursday, I became completely still, and retreated inside myself to replay and process the shocking words. My thought was a sad, but sobering one: I am apathetic about the damnation of the lost on campus with my silence and lack of clarity about the gospel. I am too concerned about not being offensive to share with them the good news that will save them from eternal damnation.
Dr. Bruce also spoke about our lives after becoming Christians and the transformation that is supposed to take place. “It isn’t up to you!” he said, citing Philippians 1:6 “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” We are transformed by God, not by our own power.
As Christians, we are still desperately dependent on Christ. When we hide our sin and pretend like we have it all together and can do it on our own, we are proclaiming that we don’t need Christ anymore. When we share our testimonies about how we used to be caught up in sin but then we met Jesus and neglect the part about how we still fall into sin and have to depend on Jesus to deliver us from temptation and forgive us when we give in, we are proclaiming that we don’t need Christ anymore.
Another thought occurred to me the next morning as I remembered a recent E-VAN outing to the University of Arkansas. Matthew Stoering and I were talking to these two girls in their campus Starbucks. They both said they were Christians. When I asked them what they would tell me if I was lost and asked them “what do I have do to be a Christian?” they wouldn’t give me a straight answer. One girl piped up with a big smile and said, I don’t think I am qualified to answer. I don’t know everything, and everyone’s journey is different. I’d say search for truth in your own way.”
This girl isn’t a postmodernist, either. I asked her later if she believed there was an absolute truth about God and salvation. She said, “Well, I’m not a Muslim… I’m a Christian.” She believed what she believed for a reason: she thought that truth was that reason. Her actions, however, show that her fears of offending others and appearing judgmental or not politically correct (which come from our postmodern culture) were stronger than her longing for the lost to be saved.
We cannot let these fears keep us from preaching the gospel. The University of Arkansas is a state school that has people of almost every worldview. JBU, however, is a Christian school. We have many different denominations and interpretations of Scripture among us, but we are (or should be) unified by the truth of the gospel.
Still, we are hesitant to share the gospel, as if we don’t want to offend someone with different views. If someone has different views of the gospel than you, it isn’t a denominational difference. As Dr. Bruce said, it is a different religion. You aren’t promoting unity when you choose not to discuss these differences. You are letting them (or yourself) remain in darkness. So preach it.
Make sure you and those around you know that even though we will never be good enough on our own, if we believe in our hearts that Christ’s work on the cross was enough, we will be saved!