Jesus became my Savior and Lord on September 6, 1999, on Labor Day. I went to church that Wednesday and met a woman who was radically saved six months prior to me, and she started a street ministry witnessing to the homeless in downtown OKC with sack lunches, prayers, and help if they wanted it. I joined her every Friday night for five years and many Fridays after.

For nearly twenty-four years since, I have had a question about the church's mission that doesn't add up to my understanding of scripture, and no one will answer me when I question this particular doctrine or teaching.

Is there a general admission or coach seating for Christians going to Heaven? Because I have heard countless times people making Jesus their Savior, but He is not yet their Lord. Or they were reasoning away habitual sin, calling someone a baby Christian when they have been in church for twenty years or more. I have even heard most ministers state there is a difference between believers and disciples. Believers will go to Heaven, but only disciples will receive the rewards.

I don't get it. Where in scripture is discipleship described as an extra credit activity? Where is the general admission for those who take the least resistant road into the kingdom of God for the nosebleed seating and those who pay the price to get an assigned seating close to the alter or business class assigned seating?

The Great Commission expresses to go into all the nations and make disciples, not make believers. Is there a good commission and a great commission? Is it a good commission to make believers and a great commission to make disciples?

Why do so many Christians teach a Jesus who lowers the bar for entry versus the Jesus who fulfilled the bar and then opened the door for those who fell below the bar of entry?

Jesus didn't lower the standard that His Father set. Jesus met that standard and then raised it! Unless your righteousness surpasses that of the law, you will not enter the kingdom of God.

Some people tell me, Jeff, we are not under the law. My response is to ask them if they are above the law now that they are saved. Do Christians believe that people are going to hell for breaking God's commandments unless they receive Jesus as Savior, and with Jesus as Savior, they receive immunity for the sins they commit from here on out? No change of behavior, just a change of position of faith?

Let me remind us of 'The Simplicity of the Gospel.' I also must be reminded as the message we are getting from Christians is not the gospel Paul preached.

The simplicity of the gospel is that even a baby Christian can understand: repent and turn to God. As you mature in Christ, more understanding is given.

Repentance shows our need for a Savior. I spent a year repenting before seeing my need for a Savior. I was baptizing myself in the Word of God every day before meeting the Lord. I sought God to answer why life was full of anguish and suffering, not my insignificant life but all generations of humanity. What I found was I was full of wickedness. The more I read the Bible, the more I put away sin. I put away drinking, fornication, pornography, cussing and blaspheming God, hatred of man, and rebellion against all authority, among other things. I even tithed before my commitment to Jesus.

Don't think I cleaned myself up before meeting Christ. I put away sin with my free will only to have my sin pop up like a jack-in-the-box unexpectedly because I couldn't change my heart. Only Jesus made me clean. Pre-Jesus, I found I was not qualified or capable through the struggle of sin to take lordship over myself. I needed outside help on the inside. I needed a Savior and Lord who was not me.

Repent and turn to God. After failing at complete repentance, I turned to God. I saw my need for a Savior and Lord. Complete repentance is, in one move, turning away from sin to our Lord Jesus. Anyone can clean the outside of the cup over and over. But only Jesus can clean the inside, and then the outside will also be clean forever.

I am not preaching a checklist. I am not telling you to get all your ducks in a row before you can get saved. I am not a Christian lawyer giving you a legal way to get saved, nor am I giving you loopholes in the law so that you can continue in sin and still enter the kingdom of God. We don't need Christian lawyers; we need preachers of the gospel. We are not saved by man's wisdom but by the cross's power. We must know a power beyond words that communicates we are a lost people in need of the crucified but raised Savior and Lord, Jesus.

The simplicity of the gospel. If you love God and fear Him, you will make it. Simple enough for a child to understand. We must come like a child to enter the kingdom of Heaven. To love God is to do what God loves. To fear God is to repent of what God hates. Simple.

The simplicity of the gospel. The first man, made in God's image and likeness, went his own way and brought sin and death into the world. The second man, Jesus, the only begotten Son of God who was always with the Father, became a man and brought righteousness and eternal life into the world through His submission to death on the cross and resurrection. If you prefer sin and death, then stick with the first man. If you prefer righteousness and eternal life, repent and turn to God in Christ Jesus. Jesus is the only way, the truth, and life to the Father.

Repentance is a necessary part of the gospel. If you are a believer but not a disciple, you are in the same realm as the devil and his demons. They are believers, too, but not disciples of Jesus. They saw Jesus crucified and raised from the dead, believers, not disciples.

Discipleship is a necessary part of the gospel. Discipleship does not complicate the simplicity of the gospel! Discipleship is not extra credit for the overachievers. Discipleship shows that you are genuinely repentant. Discipleship is ongoing repentance until the day the Lord completes our salvation. Discipleship shows that we have no other Lord but Jesus. We do not belong to ourselves.

The gospel according to the thief on the cross in the book of Matthew, both thieves are cursing Jesus. In the book of Luke, one thief has a change of mind, stops cursing and, takes responsibility for his sin, then defends Jesus as innocent. The thief then asks Jesus to remember him when He enters his kingdom. Jesus responded I will remember you.

Jesus died on the cross and went to the belly of the earth to preach the gospel to those in captivity, and the thief followed Christ as a disciple should, surrendering to the will of the Father.

If you are looking for general admission or coach seating, I plead with you to repent and turn to God. In Christ Jesus, there is RSVP seating, but you must believe and choose to follow as a disciple. Many people try to follow Jesus on their terms. These believers, not disciples, have excuses why they can't follow Jesus: family, marriage, death in the family, land to take care of, comfort over rejection and persecution, the whole eat my flesh and drink my blood offense, etc.

Jesus said come to Me all who are overburdened, and I will give you rest. Jesus also said to throw yourself upon the Rock to be broken, or the Rock will crush you. The Father seeks a broken and contrite heart, not perfect doctrine or behavior. But a heart that is perfect toward Him.

Jesus said to count the cost before building a tower, less you don't have the means to finish it and become a laughingstock. Many believers who are not disciples are not running a disciplined race and have brought shame to the building of the Lord Jesus' Church.

Jesus said to count the cost of the army coming against you and quickly accept the terms of the approaching force. What are the terms? Jesus said if you want to follow me, you must lose your life, take up your cross, and follow me. Simple.

There are many simple ways to preach the gospel. It gets complicated when people start looking for exclusions to their situation. They want to enter the kingdom of God in a different way—an exclusive door just for them and their unique circumstance. Jesus is the only door, and any other way is the way of a thief.

God willing, I will continue my case next week that God is looking for disciples of Jesus and not a head nod of believers attending church as consumers. In my paraphrase of the words of Jesus: Lord Lord, let us in we are believers. We were faithful to hear your words and to take them to heart. But Jesus will say, you were hearers only and not doers. Your faith was useless as you did not apply the grace of the Father to lose your life, take up your cross, and follow Me. You lived according to your will and not My Father's will. Depart from me, you workers of self-will and lordship.

Read Time: 6 Minutes 25 Seconds
Read Level: 6th Grade