Yesterday (8/3/2012) I purchased tickets to a Switchfoot concert that is being held in Anaheim, California on October 28th. My family and I have listened to Switchfoot for over a decade and we are really looking forward to see them play live again. I bring this up because of something that happened to me during the Ticketmaster checkout process. I hit the button for “Best Seats Available” and found out that the concert was “General Admission”. I was immediately a little discouraged as my mind started thinking of waiting in line with everyone else who will have also purchased a “General Admission” ticket. We will have to show up hours ahead of time and then rush forward to get the best seat possible.
The naked and honest truth is I want a reserved VIP seat. I don’t want to wait in line. I don’t want to show up hours ahead of time. I just want to come into the venue, be greeted and shown to my seat. I am willing to pay extra for the better seat. I just don’t want to be herded into the venue in the sea of humanity.
Some of you reading this will say that my argument seems reasonable and that my points are valid. Many of you reading this will decry my need for self-importance and special treatment even though I am willing to pay extra. As I read these words it is amazing to me the crazy things that run through my mind.
It is amazing how the Lord will use events like this in our lives to teach us His timeless truths and to work on our hearts. In one moment I could not believe that it was a “General Admission” concert and in the next moment I felt like a spoiled brat who not only deserved to stand in the “General Admission” line just like everybody else, but who needed a spanking for my bad attitude. It was at this point that the Holy Spirit checked me on my attitude and this message was born.
Salvation and entrance into eternity in heaven is a “General Admission” event. There are no reserved seats. There are no VIP’s. There is no velvet rope, special access, pre-seating or upgraded package available for purchase. There is no preferential treatment based on any criteria that we could imagine. There is only a bloody cross, an empty tomb and the Lord Jesus Christ.
There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved. (Acts 4:12 NLT)
I know that most of us already know the truths in this message that I am sharing today. However, there is always a need for us to refresh ourselves with truth, renewing our minds with the Word of the Lord. Truth we know, study and acknowledge is important but the truth we live out is even more important. My hope and prayer is that this message will encourage and provoke you to live out the truth that you should already know.
Most of us will acknowledge the Biblical truth that everyone who repents and believes the Gospel, placing their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation will be granted grace and forgiveness; receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit. The problem occurs for us when the time comes for us to live this awesome truth.
We know that everyone is welcome at the cross we just may be unsure if they are really welcome in our church or at our dinner table. Think about it about really quick and if you’re honest with yourself you’ll see my point. This is why I am calling this message “General Admission”.
Do we as believers classify people who are worthy or unworthy to be our brothers and sisters in Christ? Do we have the same “General Admission” policy as our Savior does or are we guilty of withholding our love, acceptance and fellowship to the same people that Jesus died for? What makes us different from them? Are we special? Do we deserve better treatment?
I know these rhetorical questions are hard words but my goal is that we would take a hard look at ourselves in the mirror of God’s Word. The Apostle James said it this way:
My dear brothers and sisters, how can you claim to have faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ if you favor some people over others? (James 2:1 NLT)
The same blood that cleanses me cleanses you. The same Holy Spirit that fills me is the same Holy Spirit that fills you. Jesus Christ died so that wealthy, poor, middle-class and everyone in between might be saved. There is no people group excluded or given special access. There is no specific group of sinners that cannot be forgiven. The cross was the price of our salvation and that payment created the “General Admission” access I am writing about.
Yes, I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved. They will come and go freely and will find good pastures. The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life. (John 10:9-10 NLT)
If there are people who are unwelcome in our churches it is not those people who need to change it is we who are in need of change. We cannot set prerequisites on salvation nor can we set up classes of churches for different portions of society. If faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord is what is necessary to be accepted into heaven that there should be no other requirement created by people who claim to be His followers.
Our churches should be filled with people from every economic situation. Our churches should be filled with every racial group in our nation. Our churches should be filled with every age group. Our churches should be filled with those who were notorious sinners and those who were so-called “solid citizens”. Our churches should be filled with the love of God that declares:
“Anyone who is thirsty may come to me! Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.’” (John 7:37-38 NLT)
We cannot purchase special access to God with money or good deeds. There is no VIP access due to family heritage, spiritual upbringing or even ministry work. There is only “General Admission” by the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.
We are not good enough to get in on our own nor are we bad enough to remove ourselves from the possibility of grace. If we will accept the free gift of His salvation we will receive it; regardless of who or what we are. If that is good enough for God I believe it should be good enough for you and me too.
And they sang a new song with these words: “You are worthy to take the scroll and break its seals and open it. For you were slaughtered, and your blood has ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. And you have caused them to become a Kingdom of priests for our God. And they will reign on the earth.” (Revelation 5:9-10 NLT)