Are you willing to be saved?
It's alarming to hear the misconceptions people have in our churches concerning the initial step of the sinner into salvation. How many times have we heard sinners told to 'Beg God'? The gospel is not 'beg'; it's believe! "He that believeth on him is not condemned" (John 3:17). Salvation is not the result of pulling and tugging at the divine coat-tail by 'begging' in order to overcome God's reluctance to give. He's more ready to give than we are to receive! The only bar to a sinner being reconciled to God is his own aversion to reconciliation. God is pressing his salvation upon sinners, and declaring his infinite willingness to bless them at this very moment! We've gotten this whole thing of salvation turned around to where we picture 'depraved' sinners willing and desiring to be saved and made holy, and God is not willing that they should be. A hesitant Saviour! This is an absolute slander from the enemy upon the goodness of God; and nothing could be further from the truth! "If you knew the gift of God," Christ said, "you would have asked, and he would have given" (John 4:10).
"Beloved," Spurgeon says, "there is nothing that so delights Jesus Christ as to save sinners...You misjudge him if you think he wants to be argued with and persuaded to have mercy; he gives it as freely as the sun pours forth light." Go from one end of the book of Acts to the other and show me where any apostle ever told a sinner to 'beg God' to save him. Never! "Believers [not beggars!] were the more added to the Lord...Whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins...By him all that believe are justified from all things" (Acts 5:14; 10:43; 13:38).
Another erroneous 'doctrinal deduction' that often appears in our minds is the idea of requesting God to quicken us. 'O God, regenerate me!' is not the gospel. 'Look and live' is the command (Isa 45:22). Right now, embrace Christ: his blood as your only cleansing, his righteousness as your only hope. The immediate duty of the sinner, is not to pray, but to believe. How foolish for anyone to go about praying in unbelief! Yes, the apostle did say that "whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved"; however, faith is absolutely essential to a right calling upon the Lord - "How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed?" (Rom. 10:13,14). Those who would find the new birth must trust in Christ, and take their eyes off of heaven and miracles, and fix their attention upon the promises in the Word - "He that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live" (John 11:25). Even someone dead in trespasses and in sins Christ promises shall live by believing. Sinners are not born again by lying in their corruption, and crying for a new nature. Faith in Christ and regeneration go hand-in-hand. Christians are "begotten through the gospel" (1 Cor. 4:15); that is, through a hearty reception of Christ in the gospel. We are new creatures, "being born again by the word of God" (1 Pet 1:23); we're begotten "with the word of truth" (James 1:18); "whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God" (1 John 5:1). Those that receive Christ by believing, and those only, are the sons of God, which are born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God (John 1:12,13).
Another fanciful notion, that's always been popular with unbelievers, is for them to be solemnly directed to 'Wait on the Lord.' They love that refuge. Don't give it to them; it's not the gospel. Believe! Nothing pleases them more than just to "lay" around the pool "waiting for the moving of the water" (John 5). But the command of Christ to impotent sinners "without strength" is, "Rise, take up thy bed and walk!" Quit trying to understand just how it's all going to take place; the strength will come as the command is obeyed - Trust Christ! Sinners only prove that they're opposed to God's way of salvation, when they do not immediately trust in the ability and willingness of Christ to save them. "In the name of Jesus Christ," Peter said, "rise up and walk" (Acts 3:6). The channel, through which the strength will come, is believing in the name of Jesus Christ. This man didn't sit there and try to figure it all out; nor did he rationalize, and say to Peter, "I believe, and just as soon as I feel 'something wonderful' happening to me, I'm going to get up." If he had, he never would have walked. God only works through faith. No sooner than he and Peter joined hands (which showed he truly believed), God's miracle was there! "And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up: and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength."
The command of Christ is to be obeyed, nothing doubting. To those ten lepers who cried for mercy, all Jesus said was, "Go show yourselves unto the priests" (Luke 17:14). Sounds ridiculous, doesn't it? The priests had already pronounced them "unclean." The priests couldn't help them. The only reason to go there, was if they were already cleansed. It doesn't matter how much these lepers believe in the miraculous power of Christ, they will never see it, until they go against all reason, and start walking. "And it came to pass, that as they went, they were cleansed." Do you see it? Where wine was wanting at a marriage in Cana, Mary said to those servants, "Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it" (John 2:5). After filling six pots with water, as instructed, they looked at the Master; and all Jesus said was, "Draw out now, and bear to the governor of the feast" (v7,8). Without a moments hesitation, they drew out that water, and started walking; and as they were in the way, that is, in the way of obedience, the water was made wine. The miracle would never have been wrought, had they 'waited' for it to happen, and then, bear it to the governor. Sinners [the unconverted] who wait upon the Lord, are waiting in vain. God demands the "obedience of faith" (Rom 16:26). His word has gone forth - "Believe in Christ!" The miracle waits upon you. Nowhere are the unconverted ever told to 'wait on the Lord.' "NOW is the accepted time; behold, NOW is the day of salvation" (2 Cor. 6:2). "Come NOW...though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow" (Isa 1:18). "TODAY if you will hear his voice, harden not your hearts" (Heb 3:7). "The message," Spurgeon says, "is not, 'Wait for feelings', it's 'Believe and live.' I find Jesus Christ says nothing to sinners about waiting, but very much about coming."
"Not saved are we by trying, from self can come no aid;
Tis on the blood relying, once for our ransom paid.
Tis looking unto Jesus, the holy One and Just;
Tis His great work that saves us; it is not try, but trust.
No deeds of ours are needed, to make Christ's merit more;
No frames of mind or feelings, can add to His great store;
Tis simply to receive Him, the holy One of and Just,
Tis only to believe Him, it is not try, but trust."
Abstract from the booklet "Without Money and Without Price" by Daniel Shanks