On one occasion when Christ was eating and having social fellowship with tax-collectors and sinners, the self-righteous Pharisees severely criticized Him, claiming that anyone who professed to be of God would not be found associating with such people. Jesus' response was: "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy and not sacrifice.' For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance" (Matthew 9:12-13).
Jesus came to seek and to save the lost (Luke 19:10). He did not come to save those who thought they were already in a right relationship with God. Of course, no one is, though many think they are. But the fact is "There is none righteous, no, not one . . . for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of G" (Romans 3:10, 23).
The first step toward getting well is to recognize that one is sick. Once that is done it is advisable to find a competent doctor and take the medicine that he or she prescribes. Likewise, the first step in being saved is to recognize that one is lost. Once that is done it is advisable to turn to the only One who can save and follow His plan for being saved. The only One who can save us is Christ. "Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12).
It goes without saying that we must have confidence in an earthly physician. But if we want to get well we also must be willing to follow the doctor's orders. Christ is the Great Physician of the soul. We need to learn as much about Him as we possibly can. He alone can heal us of all our soul's diseases. But He has a "prescription" for getting us well and we must follow that "prescription."
After Christ had died for the sins of all mankind, been buried, and resurrected (I Corinthians 15:1-5), He appeared to His disciples and said to them: "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things whatever I have commanded you; and behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the age" (Matthew 28:19-20). He told His apostles to "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned" (Mark 16:15-16). To those same men Jesus said: "Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem" (Luke 24:46-47). These passages encapsulate the Great Physician's "prescription."
When one turns to the book of Acts one finds the apostles carrying out the charge that Christ had given to them. Beginning in the city of Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2) and spreading out from there, they preached the gospel, urged people to believe in Christ, to repent of their sins, to confess their faith in Christ, and to be baptized for (eis = in order to) the remission of sins (Acts 2:38; 8:26-40; 10:34-48; 16:30-34; 18:8; 22:16).
It seems to me to be the ultimate cruelty for those who profess to be preachers of the gospel (the good news) to talk constantly about the Great Physician but to never tell sin-sick souls what the "prescription" is by which they can be "healed" (that is, what they must do to be saved). No one likes to keep going to a doctor for visits and consultation, but with no instructions as to how to get well. Let those of us who preach tell people about the love and care and compassion of the Great Physician and of His power to "heal," but let us not fail to tell them what His "prescription" is for being saved and about the after-care that is so vital to maintaining good spiritual health.
November 11: Cottontown Church of Christ,Cottontown, TN
November 18: Oak Grove Church of Christ, Red Boiling Springs, TN
October 30, 2012