The door is open…are you?

Salvation is not about escaping something, it’s about finding Someone. It’s not about jumping through the hoops of religion, it’s about accepting an open invitation to something both strange and absolutely wonderful beyond our ability to imagine. Because of what Christ has done, we’ve all been invited to participate in nothing less than His divine life (2 Pet.1:4). 

The New Testament bookends with this invitation. The very first thing Jesus preached publicly was to tell His people they needed a paradigm shift in thinking. The J.B. Phillips Bible paraphrases this more clearly than the traditional renderings.

14-15 It was after John’s arrest that Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the Gospel of God, saying, “The time has come at last—the kingdom of God has arrived. You must change your hearts and minds and believe the good news.” (Mark. 1:14-15 PHILLIPS *)

This paradigm shift is μετανοέω (metanoeō) in the original Greek. We traditionally translate this word “repent” in English. This is somewhat confusing because it sounds like re-penance, which is not what the word means at all (see my post, “A time to be re-formed” for further explanation).

It’s fitting that Jesus makes this proclamation when John the Baptist was arrested. John represented the last of the Old Testament prophets. He represented the closing of one age; Jesus was the beginning of something altogether new.  Jesus was telling His first century audience to open their hearts and change their mindset. They needed a new perspective. The Kingdom has come…stop thinking that God wants your bull and goat offerings and, instead, believe the good news that brings great joy.

Paul said something similar to the Gentile philosophers in Athens….

30 Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent (Acts 17:30 *)

As Robert Capon said, Jesus was announcing the end of our religion.

The truth is, whether Jew or Gentile, God never really wanted our pagan-like sacrifices (Psalm 51:16-17; Isa. 1:11, 16-17; Jer.7:22-23). All He ever wanted from the beginning was our heart—to receive His overtures of affection, His other-centered, self-giving love, and then to walk in that same love toward others. This paradigm shift means moving away from trying to appease God with our religious scapegoating, and toward believing Him and living our lives in response to His love instead.

So, what is this good news that brings great joy? The New Testament ends with the following invitation that expresses it beautifully.

17 And the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely. (Rev.22:17 *)

In the New Testament, this “water” represents the Spirit that has come to make His home in us (John 4:14;7:38-39). This “life” is the Greek word zoe (ζωή ), which in this particular context doesn’t refer to our biological life, it refers to “God’s very own life.” 

To understand how profoundly wonderful this invitation is, I ask you to suspend what you might’ve assumed about the Gospel for a moment. This is not talking about why Jesus went to the Cross, but what He accomplished for us there. See if what I’m saying makes sense.

The invitation is to simply “come.”

The qualifications are: whoever hears…thirsts…desires.

If that’s you, the door is already open wide. Simply enter into the spacious life of God. You’ve been invited to drink freely of this life to the fullest extent of your heart’s desire. But if your heart is closed, then this door is closed. It’s closed to His life. But it’s only closed in your mind.

The choice really is yours.

28-30 “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (Matt.11:28-30 MSG)

* New King James Bible translation unless otherwise noted. All emphasis added.
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About Mel Wild

God's favorite (and so are you), a son and a father, happily married to the same beautiful woman for 38 years. We have three incredible adult children. My passion is pursuing the Father's heart in Christ and giving it away to others. My favorite pastime is being iconoclastic and trailblazing the depths of God's grace. I'm also senior pastor of Cornerstone Church in Wisconsin.
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17 Responses to The door is open…are you?

  1. bwcarey says:

    open your heart, you will hear and see things, and you won’t be quick to judge, fine post, amen

  2. Amen! Now there’s a refreshing drink of water! Well done.

    In the context you’ve mentioned, it just occurred to me how profound John’s words are when he says, “I must decrease so He can increase.” We don’t necessarily have to do anything to transform, we just have to make some room for the new. What we gaze upon we tend to become.

    • Mel Wild says:

      Exactly, IB. Everything in the Kingdom starts with accepting the invitation to enter into His life, receiving and being made more like Him in the cooperative process, which brings transformation. What you said is exactly what Paul told us in 2 Cor.3:18: “And we all, with unveiled faces reflecting the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another, which is from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”

  3. I understand what you are saying and agree with 99% of it. However, people today have lost sight of the dangers. We are not saved to something. A drowning person is not saved to the shore; he is saved from the water. Someone in a burning building is not saved to the street; he is saved from the fire. We are saved from being kidnapped by Satan. He demanded a ransom, and Jesus paid it. Yes, we no longer think about the ransom either. God told Adam and Eve, “The day you sin, you will die.” And that’s what happened. Now we were in his clutches and remained there until Jesus came to pay the terrible ransom Satan demanded to free us.

    • Mel Wild says:

      Of course. We agree there. Katheryn. As I said in the post, I wasn’t talking about why Jesus went to the Cross, but what He accomplished there. As you said, we are saved from something, but the purpose was to be saved for something. And He accomplished this purpose 2,000 years ago. God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their sins against them (2 Cor.5:19). So, now the door is swung wide open for those who will believe it. We simply come to Him and He will transforms us.

  4. selbol kujul says:

    It’s really amazing how we can stand in front of an open door but never get a chance to enter in cos we ain’t open within. Sometimes we do enter in but just stop in the first room n never know the rooms in the ‘house’… Salvation is a process that begins with us opening up but only continues when we keep opening up.
    Great piece

  5. sklyjd says:

    “it’s about accepting an open invitation to something both strange and absolutely wonderful beyond our ability to imagine.”

    What happens Mel if it is not beyond our ability to imagine? Considering you are strongly convinced in your faith as with the many others that also aspire to their gods within all the religions is it not strange to you that one of the gods particularly your Christian God has not surfaced beyond the supernatural world? Is it also not strange that all the gods claim they are the real creators and eternal life givers when no physical evidence of creation or eternal life has eventuated.

    The answers to what we do not understand are inside our powerful brains. The brain decides everything and is what moulds us into the person we are and if you were to look further you would see the brain is far more mysterious and exciting than all the gods put together.

    • Nan says:

      Yes, Love that last sentence,

    • Mel Wild says:

      What happens Mel if it is not beyond our ability to imagine?

      Of course, because if it doesn’t fit inside your head you can’t believe it. You reject the god of your own making. Your god is your brain, so what you said makes total sense. Good luck in your fishbowl.

      • sklyjd says:

        I was always told by Christians God was well beyond human comprehension, and you did say beyond our ability to imagine, so have you changed your mind on that?

        The fact is, nothing is more powerful than our brains, this includes any gods you may like to mention, because they and all your imaginations are all created by the brain and since you appear to agree maybe you should be worshipping the brain because it at least has substance.

        • Mel Wild says:

          The fact is, nothing is more powerful than our brains….

          The fact is? LOL! You are quite the fundamentalist with your faith-based certitudes, sklyjd. The fact is, that’s pure baloney. You have no way to prove that there’s nothing more powerful than the brain, especially by using science, for methodological reasons. That’s just “fishbowl” talk.

          So, why does this almighty and exalted brain matter continue to exist? Explain to me, cogently, how something contingent can create and sustain itself. Otherwise, I’m not interested in your speculations you call facts. It’s nothing but pure scientism dressed up to look like science.

        • sklyjd says:

          “You have no way to prove that there’s nothing more powerful than the brain,”

          You can prove there is Mel, or you mean you think you can because of that thought, but belief is an emotion generated by the guess what…. The brain. You have nothing else to offer apart from what happens inside your brain.

          If you were to look at evolution seriously such as skull sizes and shapes dated over many thousands of years it makes a lot more sense than simply implying someone created us ever could. If you are not a science denier, what makes you disagree with this science because each year for the last decade, anthropologists have unearthed hundreds of fossil specimens from extinct hominin species and populations, and they are still finding more evidence, this time in China that is now changing the evolutionary demographic?

          Think about the amazing brains we have such as hypnosis used for psychological reasons and stage shows, the amazing mass indoctrination of Hitler’s Germany and the mind control from the Pol Pot regime, the mass observance of apparitions, the near death experiences such as leaving the body, the David Copperfield mass illusions, the visual puzzles and the insane magical tricks, not to mention how emotional thoughts can send a completely sane person into an act not expected of them, or an event that has a lifelong positive or negative effect or personal mind control through meditation or motivational incentives.

          These things are indisputable evidence of the brains unparalleled power, whether you believe we consciously control it or not these things are clear and real because we all experience them. Nothing, including all beliefs in anything at all come from nowhere else but the exclusive brain, and scientists do not make this up.

        • Mel Wild says:

          I have no trouble believing the brain is very powerful, but that’s not what you claimed. You said, the fact is, there’s nothing more powerful than the brain. That is a certitude you cannot prove. And it’s easily disproved logically.

          And you still haven’t explained to me, cogently, how something contingent like the brain can create and sustain itself. I would go further. How can anything in our contingent cosmos, including evolutionary processes, sustain itself, since they are necessarily contingent? So, you’re wasting your time going on about the brain. It cannot be the most powerful thing there is if it relies on a more fundamental, more fully actualized motive force to sustain its own existence. While the brain is truly remarkable, logically, it cannot be the most powerful force there is.

        • sklyjd says:

          “there’s nothing more powerful than the brain. That is a certitude you cannot prove.”

          I can, because it is obvious to the observer and owner of a brain, you tell me what is more powerful for directing people’s lives? If you say God, well all Christians should obviously be better off than everybody else due to divine guidance and if that was true everyone would become a Christian.

          “And it’s easily disproved logically.”

          Ok Mel I am all eyes and ears as long as it is not a Biblical passage.

          “And you still haven’t explained to me, cogently, how something contingent like the brain can create and sustain itself. I would go further. How can anything in our contingent cosmos, including evolutionary processes, sustain itself, since they are necessarily contingent?”

          If you are not interested in the development of the brain through man’s evolutionary progress to where we are today my appealing to the intellect or powers of reasoning will do nothing for you but only to waste my time and effort when this knowledge is currently at your fingertips.

          The brain is not predictable and not completely understood and like almost everything else it is sustained by man’s progress, man has advanced and evolved just as the universe. Nothing remains static forever, the universe and all the sciences will always be advancing and changing. The universe is on the same basis as a simple ecosystem on Earth, believe it is subject to chance or ordered, everything is self-sustaining and balanced until the equilibrium changes and eventually another balance is reached. Of course, this eventually and ultimately could mean sustainability or destruction for certain life forms.

          “It cannot be the most powerful thing there is if it relies on a more fundamental, more fully actualized motive force to sustain its own existence.”

          The brain does not depend on anything to sustain its own existence apart from a living body. The brains of many different organisms have been known to have been kept alive outside of the body by scientists for any set amount of time. It can only be a matter of time before transplants in humans are possible.

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