Identity Crisis

I recently discussed salvation and the Identity Concept (IC) as they relate. This discussion brought about important issues of distinction. IC is the teaching about who you are now as a Christian. The idea of IC as many ideas if improperly used, prop up a bad ideas. It will become the reason for supporting a bad idea as if proving IC legitimizes, as in this case, a bad gospel. This is the case with the IC concept when placed with the popular gospel of Cheap Grace (CG) or easy believe-ism. Cheap grace is the salvation that requires no repentance for salvation because it erroneously states simply that by “faith” in Christ you are saved. It requires nothinwhog else. You will change naturally.

I use and want to grow in my identity in Christ and I hope to encourage others to do the same. IC is encouraged after becoming a Christian. A Christian is one who trusts Christ, thus having a new King, Kingdom and Kingdom purpose. You are now a resident of the Kingdom and a royal subject of the King. You are His representative and emissary. You are now empowered by this knowledge for Kingdom living and service.

IC is improperly applied in CG and give an unfortunate support for CG. IC’s role in the context of CG is as follows. One believes in Jesus expressed in the prayer of salvation. Then one needs to be taught about their identity. It is believed that the new Christian will “naturally” grow to maturity once they have been taught their identity. I believe, that for some, it works just that way and they become wonderful and fruitful Christians. However this is the anomaly…I believe that fruitful Christians work hard for their new life. For the majority, when told they are saved through their “faith” and are Heaven bound, IC becomes irrelevant. They naturally conclude it isn’t important for salvation, so why bother. It is like a contractor being paid before the job is completed. He lacks motivation to do the job timely, if at all.

Experience shows that many of us really struggle in our evolution: sanctification. It can be very hard to change habits and take on the character of Christ. Many superficial changes are quite easy but others are demoralizing. It isn’t all that natural to change but it is inevitable to change as you “work out your faith with fear and trembling.”

From this stand point, when IC does not achieve it purported goals, it isn’t concluded that the faith was spurious but that IC hasn’t been properly grasped. They believe the individual is saved through their ”faith” so the salvation of the individual isn’t to be questioned. Is proclaiming faith in Christ enough?

IC properly placed in the acceptance of Christ is highly valuable. The foundation that IC rests is the Gospel that which teaches to submit to Jesus the King and make a commitment to adhering to the Kingdom lifestyle. As anything new, it comes through difficulty and failure.

Faith in Christ is as simple as hearing his message and as a result following his word and lifestyle. Faith is like flicking a switch and the result is the illuminance of the light. Yet, it isn’t natural to luminate as bright as Jesus but through sanctification we become brighter. IC may play an important role. The faithful will bear fruit; the fruit described in Galatians, the fruit of the Spirit. This fruit affect the lives of outsiders.

IC can play an important role for those of faith. Assuming one comes to faith, as Christ would define, it is the next necessary to teach them to obey Jesus (Matt 28:18-20.) Since, in this transaction, Christ is recognized as Lord, non-spurious faith will continue in its ups and downs through the end of life. In this, IC is very important. These ones will become bright lights.

IC provides, upon the foundation of Christ and the Gospel, an understanding of who we are in relationship to God. It says we are loved children and co-heirs with Christ. With the assurance of God’s power, love, and fidelity we are empowered to live as Jesus. Knowing we are on his team to be equipped and used for his eternal purpose, we are fruitful. It is like taking the jersey and given a position to play on your favorite sports team. It is incredible to be included as a full member of the family of God through Jesus Christ.

Buck-a-Soul: Slashing Prices on Salvation!

Image“Buy now while prices are low! This deal can’t last forever! The boss is out and he would “Pop His Top!” if he knew the deal we were giving you! Come in now and you’ll get a free latte with every purchase!”

This a typical sales pitch on radio and TV, and it works!

Heck, most have used a similar pitch for the gospel! It is a formula for sales; get them excited, show them the great deal they are getting and close the deal quick before they quit feeling. If they start to think, we might not close the deal!

They seem to have discovered the secret to winning souls at a low, low price!

When my wife and I were raising support as missionaries, I ran into a guy who was trying to be a good steward. He said “The organization we give to has a salvation ratio of a buck-a-soul!” This ministry would carry video equipment to show the Jesus Film. They would play it all over the world in remote villages. Then they would give a gospel message and individuals would respond.

He could give $1,000. Vavoom, a 1,000 souls!  I couldn’t compete with that. My ratio has been thousands of dollars per soul. I’ve never calculated it, I don’t think I could.

I think you as I, are not convinced of the buck-a-soul ratio. A couple things to note: They don’t calculate the funds to pay evangelists to travel from their home to the destination and other overhead costs. But I can’t prove that.

I spoke to another individual recently. He touts a similar ratio. I know their calculation only includes the initial equipment cost and nothing else; cooking the books.

But here is the real issue. The gospel they preach is simplistic; believe in Jesus and you’ll be saved.

To most of us this sounds great; what is the problem?

It is like a business that cuts prices in desperation to make a sale. If a business is doing poorly it is tempting to reduce prices. In spite of these sales the business will collapse! It is also like a person who is starving themselves. The body begins to consume itself and is destroyed.

And the same destruction is being dealt upon the church.

With a motivation to see people respond to a gospel message, we have slashed prices on the gospel!

This is nearly universal but due to our paradigm we can’t see it.

The result has been, people believing they are forgiven when they aren’t. It works as a great inoculation against a Biblical Gospel. 200 million people now call themselves Christians in the United States. We know this number can’t be correct because if it were we would live in a virtual utopia! It isn’t the case but there has been a result. So many call His name but so few exemplify His life. Ever wonder why we are categorically called hypocrites? The institution is being destroyed!

Regularly I hear of such-and-such pastor and the great gospel he preaches. Then I go listen! The prices are slashed using the same old rhetoric. People respond and numbers are reported. “10 people were saved at such-and-such meeting!” The people rejoice!

How many people return to church? How many continue to the end? How many have a changed life? How many take up the cross? How many live the sacrificial life of love, consistent with salvation?

Few! Those who stay on get en-cultured into the modern American gospel and Christian-ism. At best, they produce a good church member and a descent family; rarely anything else!

Jesus only had 500 followers at His ministry’s termination. This was after three years of miracles, three years of preaching, and His resurrection! After His ascension and Pentecost a few thousand more were added. Paul didn’t have great number afterward.

The numbers given by ministries today are dubious! I’ve been told if you added up the conversions in India over the years we would have to determine the whole population is Christian and as a result Hinduism is dead.  Obviously this is not the case.

Time always tells the real number, a small fraction of what is reported.

It feels good to report high numbers; validates the ministry and helps draw people and funds. There are quite a few immediate benefits.

If we quit slashing prices, state the costs and benefits of the Gospel, we will have fewer so called conversions. However, those who come are more likely to finish the race and produce 10, 20, and 100 fold! These are the real numbers.

Sorry to say, this approach will kill the buck-a-soul ratio!

Now read this again…it’s ominous!

“Buy now while prices are low! This deal can’t last forever! The boss is out and he would “Pop His Top!” if he knew the deal we were giving you!” What do you think?