You may recall the 4 Spiritual Laws originated in the 20th century by Bill Bright in the United States. Consider the 4 Spiritual Responses originated in the 1st century by Jesus in the Middle East. ◊
I was first taught the so-called “4 Spiritual Laws” when I became a Christian in junior high school. The church I started to attend used to even hand out little pamphlets describing these 4 steps to understanding the basics of Christianity. They were developed in the 1960’s by a man named Bill Bright who was the president of Campus Crusade in Los Angeles.
These were used as a standard model for explaining to people that Jesus Christ “stands at the door and knocks” (Revelation 3:20) and awaits the individual to respond by “opening the door of their heart” and inviting Him into his or her life.
It worked for me as a youngster in the 1970’s and has worked for many since. Here are the actual 4 Spiritual Laws and their supporting Bible verses:
- God loves you and offers a wonderful plan for your life (John 3:16; 10:10).
- Man is sinful and separated from God. Therefore, he cannot know and experience God’s love and plan for his life (Roman 3:23; 6:23).
- Jesus Christ is God’s only provision for man’s sin. Through Him you can know and experience God’s love and plan for your life (Roman 5:8; 1 Corinthians 15:3-6; John 14:6).
- We must individually receive Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. Then we can know and experience God’s love and plan for our lives (John 1:12; 3:1-8; Ephesians 2:8-9; Revelation 3:20).
They told us to say the prayer to “accept Jesus and ask Him into your heart.” Once you did that you were now “saved and going to heaven.” Seemed like a pretty good deal to me.
I was all in, or at least I thought I was.
Is there a Problem With This?
No, there is absolutely no problem with this as a good and logical presentation of the Gospel message that a personal spiritual relationship with Jesus is the provision by which we are forgiven for our sinful nature and reconciled with God who loves us deeply and has great plans for us now and forevermore.
There is, however, the issue of making a well-intended intellectual, even heart-felt and emotional decision versus experiencing a sustained personal surrender and thus a transformation of one’s life.
I lived for the next 35 years with God in my head and somewhat in my heart, but certainly not as the driving force in a fully surrendered life.
What Did Jesus Say About This?
The most important thing is actually our enduring response to God upon hearing the very appealing Gospel message. A response that runs deeper than superficial motions, good intentions, and warm feelings. To make this distinction, Jesus Himself tells a very simple but profound story that, at the time, confounded both crowds and even His own disciples. The story, told as a parable, appears in Matthew 13, Mark 4, and Luke 8. We know and understand it now as the “Parable of the Sower.”
There once was a gardener who tossed planting seeds all around the grounds. Some of the seeds fell on the walking path and were quickly snatched up and devoured by the birds. Other seeds fell on rocky ground where there was no depth of soil, so while some sprouts grew, they quickly withered away in the hot sun. Still other seeds fell upon the thorny weeds and soon were choked and smothered. Finally other seeds actually fell on good soil where they took deep root and brought forth multiplied growth.
To His confused disciples, Jesus explains the parable as follows:
“Now the parable is this: The seed is the Word of God. The ones along the path are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, that they may not believe and be saved. And the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy; but these have no root, they believe for a while and in time of temptation fall away. And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature. And as for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bring forth fruit with patience.” (Luke 8:11-15)
The 4 Spiritual Responses to God
In this parable, God is the sower or gardener. He has delivered His message to mankind, even through the ages – In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son. – Hebrews 1:1-2. That message is that God is at hand and He wants to reconnect with His creation establishing fruitful life in them with Him for eternity, as was always intended.
We actually respond in 4 ways to this message of God:
1. I Hear It, but Don’t Really Believe It – Many have heard the Gospel message in sermons or through family and friends. Like seeds falling on an open path or on deaf ears, the message is plucked out of their minds and never has a chance.
2. I Hear It, Believe It, but Don’t Nurture It – Many hear the message of God and acknowledge its truth for their lives but never take another step toward development. There is small growth but then a withering away of their faith as they are not nourished or sustained.
3. I Hear It, Believe It, Nurture It, but Don’t Surrender to It – This is the category of many devout Christians, like myself for many years, where we believe and move through life with a balanced mix of Godly faith and worldly pursuits and entanglements. The net result is immature fruit or no real fruit at all because God is relegated to lower levels of devotion. It’s unfortunately living the Christian life at less than 100%.
4. I Hear It, Believe It, Nurture It, and Fully Surrender to It – This is the true “all in” Christ-following disciple. Not simply the go-to-church-on-Sunday-and-maybe-a-mid-week-Bible-study-meeting-Christian; this is the full-surrendering disciple abiding daily, deeply rooted in rich and nourishing soil blossoming in fresh and multiplied fruit, even a hundredfold.
The Good News is that the Word of God message is for all mankind. But there are Life and Death implications to how we respond. Whether we count it fair or otherwise, casual response to the Gospel is actually not acceptable per the ultimate Judge. Fortunately, He’s patient and waits for us to finally find the way and take root. It’s our own loss in any meandering, as the surrendered life is the clearly better way.
How are you responding to God?
“But blessed are your eyes, for they see; and your ears, for they hear. Many a prophet and godly man has longed to see what you have seen and hear what you have heard, but couldn’t.” – Matthew 13:16-17