"I want an Arkansas driver's license. Tell me what I need to do to get one." What answer would you give? "First, you must be 16 years of age." "Okay." "Second, you must be a resident of Arkansas." "Okay." "Third, if you do not have a driver's license from another state, you must pass a written test. Then you must pass a driving test." "Okay." "But, if you have a license from another state, that is not necessary." "Okay." "Fourth, you must go to the department of motor vehicles, present your proper documents, complete the paper work, and pay the proper fee." "Okay." "Then you are issued an Arkansas driver's license."

Footnote: when you receive a driver's license, your world changes. You have a form of freedom that you never experienced before. You have a level of responsibility that you never had before. You can help people as you never helped them before. You can hurt people as you have never hurt them before. Your whole world changes. Your whole life changes. Neither you, your life, nor your world will ever be the same again.

Some of you are saying to yourself that my last few statements are an enormous exaggeration. I could try to prove those statements are not an exaggeration by illustrating the freedoms, powers, and responsibilities of a driver's license. Instead, allow me to make my point in a much simpler way. First, everyone present who has a driver's license, hold up your hand. Thank you! Second, everyone of you who have a driver's license think to yourself how radically your life would change if you did not have your license for just one month. Third, all of you who hope someday to have a driver's license, what if you were informed today that you would never in your entire lifetime be granted a license?

  1. Suppose someone said to you, "I want salvation. What is necessary for me to have salvation?"
    1. "I have been reading the Bible lately."
      1. "It talks about making forgiveness available to everyone."
      2. "I want forgiveness. The Bible tells me when I receive forgiveness that I will also receive salvation."
      3. "I want salvation. How do I get it?"
    2. What would you tell that person?
      1. "I know what I would tell that person."
        1. "I would tell him that he has to believe."
        2. "I would tell him that he has to repent."
        3. "I would tell him that he has to confess."
        4. "I would tell him that he has to be baptized."
      2. "I would tell him when he does those things, he has salvation."
    3. What do you mean?
      1. When you tell him that he "has to believe," what do you mean?
        1. Believe what?
        2. Believe what you tell him?
        3. Believe in the church?
        4. Believe a fact or a set of facts?
        5. What is he supposed to believe?
      2. When you tell him that he "has to repent," what do you mean?
        1. What is that? What is repentance?
        2. Being sorry? Sorry for what?
      3. When you tell him that he "has to confess," what do you mean?
        1. Confess what?
        2. Confess the fact that he has done evil things?
        3. Confess the specific evil things he has done?
        4. Confess a fact or a set of facts?
        5. Or is confession just an acknowledgment that you accept some facts about Jesus?
          1. "God send him; he was executed on a cross; God raised him from the dead."
          2. "I confess those things happened."
          3. Is that what confession means?
      4. When you tell him to be baptized, what do you mean?
        1. Is baptism just something you do?
        2. Or is it just something God does?
        3. Does it mean anything?
    4. "Well, David, since you seem to be so ignorant about how a person receives salvation, let me explain it to you."
      1. "When a person actually receives salvation, there is the preacher's part and the person's part."
        1. "The preacher's part is to talk to you a little bit about believing, which he assumes you do or you would not be there."
        2. "The repenting part just happens--nobody really does anything."
        3. "The confessing part is real simple--you just say, "Yes," at the right time."
        4. "But the preacher takes care of all that; that is his part; you just say what you are supposed to say at the right time."
      2. "The baptism part is your part."
        1. "And, really, you just have to cooperate with the preacher to do that."
        2. "He says something about why this is happening, puts you under some water, then lifts you back up."
      3. "When all that happens, you have salvation."

  2. Permit me to draw two comparisons between a driver's license and salvation: one comparison is positive, and one is negative.
    1. First, the positive comparison: when you receive a driver's license, it is essential that you change the way you look at life, you look at people, you look at property, and you look at other drivers.
      1. If that change does not happen, you are a threat to yourself, to everyone in your vehicle, and to everyone you meet on the road.
      2. Is it required that you change the way you look at life before you get a driver's license?
        1. No! That change is not even listed among the requirements.
        2. But that change is an important part of the "why" for taking the written test.
        3. That change is an important part of the "why" for the driving test.
        4. That change is just as essential as knowing the rules and mechanics of driving.
      3. In the essential nature of that change, there is a parallel between receiving a driver's license and receiving salvation.
        1. Receiving salvation involves changing the way you look at life, you look at people, you look at things, you look at God, and you look at the meaning and purpose of life.
        2. Changing the way you look at existence is just as essential as what you do.
        3. The power of what we do as we seek salvation depends on the changed way we look at life and eternity.
        4. The changed way we look at life is an essential part of believing, repenting, confessing, and being baptized.
    2. Second, the negative comparison: a person does not get salvation like a person gets a driver's license.
      1. Human beings give driver's licenses; God gives salvation.
      2. With a driver's license, you do the right things in the right order, and you get the license.
        1. "It is mine!"
        2. "I deserve it! I did the right things to get it! No one has the right to deny me of what is mine!"
      3. We have created the impression that we have the right to have salvation just like we have the right to have a driver's license.
        1. But there is a fundamental difference between the two: salvation is God's gift to the person.
        2. We have it only because God gives it to us, and not a single one of us deserve it.
      4. A critical part of receiving God's gift is the complete change in the way we look at God, the way we look at Jesus, the way we look at self, and the way we look at life.

  3. In the New Testament, Christians had a huge problem understanding how essential it was to change the way you looked at your existence.
    1. The Christians in Rome did not understand the importance of changing the way a Christian looks at existence.
      1. Paul told those Christians that they misunderstood the purpose of baptism if they did not change the way they looked at existence.
      2. Romans 6:3-7 Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin.
      3. There was a time in their lives that they did not even know what evil was.
        1. Then they became aware of evil, and became aware that evil was in their lives and controlled their lives.
        2. They did not want evil to control them.
        3. They understood that God through Jesus Christ was the only one who could do anything about it.
        4. Evil does not control the person in Christ because that person yields control to God.
        5. That changed the way they looked at everything.
    2. The Christians at Corinth had an enormous problem understanding that Christians see life, themselves, other people, and God differently.
      1. Why did they have competing divisions inside the congregation, why did they have a man who maintained a sexual relationship with his step mother, why did they take each other to a pagan court, why did many of them visit prostitutes, why was worship gatherings an open competition among Christians that created confusion?
      2. Why? They looked at existence and the meaning and purpose of life just like they did before they became Christians.
      3. 1 Corinthians 2:1-5 And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.
    3. I am confident that I can show you Paul bemoaning the same problem in many of his New Testament writings: Galatians, Ephesians, Colossians, 1 Thessalonians, 1 Timothy, Titus.

  4. That same problem is an enormous problem right now among Christians, in the church.
    1. We look at life, and the meaning of life, and the purpose of life, and the objectives of existence the same way everyone else does.
      1. In fact, the way people who are not Christians look at life is more likely to influence the way we look at life than we are likely to influence the way they look at life.
      2. We marry for the same reasons they do; we divorce for the same reasons they do; we look at children the same way they do; we treat people the same way they do; we indulge our desires the same way they do; we let the physical control us the same way they do; we are materialistic in the same ways they are; we see physical existence just like they do.
    2. We have so much to learn about the meaning of faith, repentance, and baptism.
      1. We have so much to learn about what it means to have faith and believe.
      2. We have so much to learn about what it means to repent and to repent.
      3. We have so much to learn about what it means to confess and to confess each day.
      4. We have so much to learn about what it means to be baptized and to commit.

Are you a Christian? How has the way you see self, life, and God changed since you became a Christian? Is your view of existence still changing as you spiritually grow? Do you want that change to occur in your life? If it does not, it is very questionable that you are a Christian. An fundamental evidence of conversion is this change in the way we see life.

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Morning Sermon, 14 April 2002

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