Our lives are to attract people to the gospel, not repel people from it. For us to be attractors we must let the gospel thoroughly change us. This begins by coming to Jesus on His terms. He calls us to fully embrace Him, His life, and His standard. Jesus has always called for a choice, a change: “Repent and believe in the gospel” (Mk. 1:15). This was not a multiple answer invitation. His hearers were confronted with a singular call for which there were only two responses, yes or no. Our God is not a God of half measures. Yet in very early American history a regrettable precedent was set whereby those who gave just a nod to Christianity were afforded many of the privileges of the fully devoted. These “half-way covenanters,” as they were called, claimed no personal conversion to Christ yet they and their children were still viewed as part of the church. Their affiliation was something of a “family plan” for the quasi-committed.
Of course, this set the stage for an onslaught of compromise and theological liberalism.
There are continuing ramifications from these centuries-old concessions that are still evident in American church life today. The potency of the gospel was diluted because of these accommodations to nominalism. We are always in danger if we seek to lessen the gospel’s demands or lower its standards. Jesus said, “I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not remain in darkness” (Jn. 12:46, MEV).
We do not receive Christ in bits and pieces. Only those who live under His lordship truly honor His grace. Deitrich Bonhoeffer went so far as to assert, “The only man who has the right to say that he is justified by grace alone is the man who has left all to follow Christ.” We have been purchased by His blood. We belong to Him. We are to be exclusively His. “He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again” (2 Cor. 5:15).
To live in a manner worthy of the gospel means we embrace Christ’s lordship, exhibit His love, and boldly carry His message. To accomplish this we draw on His life-giving Spirit and we live in light of eternity, remembering that we will give an account of our post-conversion lives when we stand before Jesus. In short, as Christians we are to live by the Spirit’s power for the glory of God, the honor of Jesus, and the spread of the gospel.