It has been far too long since I have posted anything here.
I was listening to a talk show on the radio yesterday and the guest was a medical doctor specializing in preventative medicine, specifically nutritional remedies. I only caught a bit of the interview but one thing stood out that he said. He was answering a question about which blood pressure medications have the least side effects. His answer was, “we are asking the wrong question. Too many people think the right medicine will solve their problem. When in fact their problem is often due to lifestyle choices. Most don’t do much of anything to change their diets and exercise routines. Most people think they can keep doing the same things that got them into health trouble, take a pill, and continue the same lifestyle. Medicine has become the new religion with ‘salvation in a bottle'”
I am in no place to debate the merits of his comments from a medical perspective (though he did say heart related deaths are on the rise even with the proliferation of heart medicines). I think he is correct in his estimation of how people view medicines. Instead of radical changes in diet and exercise, most people would rather continue living the way they live and simply take a pill once (or thrice) daily to “solve” their problem. I thought about his phrase “salvation in a bottle”. I wonder how may people who are followers of Jesus, view Jesus as a quick fix solution?
As a Pastor and Teacher I worry that I may ever give the impression that Jesus is a “quick-fix”, “say a little prayer”, “feel sorry for your sins”, and “want Heaven” kind of solution. Too often people want to continue living exactly how they lived before and they have simply added Jesus in their life as a “salvation in a bottle” remedy.
We have a tendency to focus on Jesus as our way to Heaven. Once we have that covered, it’s business as usual. There are several problems with this outlook. First, coming to Jesus for Salvation involves a radical transformation. Not one brought by our own hands, but by Him. We go from death to life, from darkness to light, from children of wrath to children of God. It is a complete transformation of our standing before God. Second, coming to Jesus for Salvation is about entering into a relationship with the Son of God. It is not only about Heaven. It is about a relationship with the Creator. Jesus said in John 17:3, “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only True God, and the One you have sent, Jesus Christ.” There is nothing in this definition about streets of gold, angels, harps, or pearly gates. Eternal Life is knowing God.
My prayer is that we as God’s children would understand the radical transformation that has already occurred when we came to Jesus; that we would live lives consistent with this transformation; that we would be a witness to the world that following Jesus means more than what we do on Sunday mornings.
2 thoughts on “Salvation in a Bottle”
Wow that is so profound. Thank you so much Jon for posting this. Absolutely meat to chew on.
I love your postings. They are thoughtful and thought provoking.
Sadly, the medicinal “Salvation in a Bottle” message lives in too many Christians, churches and seminaries today. And many accept the deceitful balm, whether by design, ignorance, or casualness of who God is as it soothes the unrepentant conscience. A teaspoon of “Jesus,” a pill of prayer, a shot of church service, a bandage of used clothes donated to a homeless shelter (non-profit, so we don’t miss our tax deduction),…and we proclaim “cured!
It’s a dose of therapeutic religion; leaven measured, not too much and not too little (otherwise it might be too hot or too cold). The bottle message would have us believe our recovery to earthly blessings and eternal heaven is complete, holistically balanced by standards found outside of God’s holy Word. The truth is this treatment leaves us every bit as sick, but with masked symptoms. Ignorance may be bliss. But die we will.
God did not provide a partial cure for sin.
The Father calls. He took the initiative to beckon all people to salvation, as he desires none to perish. And He provided the cure in the Blood of Jesus Christ.
So how do we get this prescription? We believe in the pardon prescription, and accept it as offered. We take it, the full dose. It is not a therapy session. It is not a series of treatments or a one a day dose for two weeks; no, it is total surrender of the heart, yielding soul and mind to Jesus. And at that moment the Holy Spirit baptizes us from spiritual death into life eternal. We are not just healed, but made a new creature in Christ! He is the Great Physician.
A new creature in Christ may face many difficult challenges from the consequences of the old life outside of the Great Physician’s care, but a new life it is. Putting Jesus in a bottle, opening occasionally to teaspoon a sup when we are in trouble or down is not the prescription; it is unfaithful disobedience at best, the fatal poisoning of self at worst.
We are called to grow disciples. We must be foundationally solid in God’s Word to train those who would hear and fight those who would deceive.