Gospel Light Baptist Church
237 Lockett Station Road
Albany, Georgia 31721 229-698-2127
NOTE: The below is the text of the book, “What I Got Out of the Passion,” by Michael D. O’Neal, copyright 2004, not to be reproduced without permission, and not to be resold. For a current listing of Brother O’Neal’s books click: here
INTRODUCTIONActs 1:3 To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God:
I want to speak to you today on the subject, What I Got Out of the Passion.
The passion had a greater impact on me than any movie I have ever seen.
You ask, “Brother O’Neal, did you actually go and see the movie?” Of course not! I quit attending movies over 30 years ago!
The passion, as found in our text, is the expression the Bible uses to refer to our Lord’s suffering on Calvary.
When I talk to you about what I got out of “the passion,” I’m not talking about a Hollywood film, but a historical fact! I’m not talking about Mel Gibson’s vision of what happened, but my God’s version of what happened! I’m not talking about the movie at the cinema but the Man on the cross! I’m talking about “the passion” of Acts 1:3!
Right after Gibson’s movie came out, someone asked me, “Did you see the movie?” I replied, “No, I read the Book!”
A guy in the gym where I work out with one of our church high school kids said, “You’re a preacher, aren’t you? You would like it!” I answered, “For me to go see a Mel Gibson movie on the sufferings of Jesus Christ would be like buying a workout video on bodybuilding and pumping iron by Peewee Herman!”
Some so-called independent, fundamental pastors actually bought movie tickets for their church members! I read that one preacher even took his members to the movie at church time!
As a Bible-believing, fundamental, independent Baptist pastor, why would I want to send my Baptist people to a movie theater to watch a Hollywood movie directed by a lost, hell-bound, Roman Catholic, Mary-worshipping movie star?
When a Roman Catholic can make a movie about the crucifixion that is acceptable to the Roman Catholic Church, applauded by the world, and approved by independent Baptist preachers, you know a few things about the situation:
1. The devil is behind it, joining what God has divided.
2. It is an abomination to God, for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God (Lk. 16:15)!
3. The Great Whore at Rome is still as sly and as seductive as she has ever been.
4. Some independent Baptists have no more spiritual discernment on this matter than do lost Roman Catholics!
Let me tell you what I got out of the “real” passion — the suffering and sacrifice of our Savior on the cross:
A PERCEPTION OF SIN
2 Corinthians 5:21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.
People who have viewed the movie have commented about the shocking depiction of the suffering of Jesus. However, they still seem to be unaware of the reason for the suffering of Christ. They know after watching the movie only that which I already knew before I trusted Christ, that Christ died on the cross. They don’t understand that which is the heart of the gospel, that Christ died “for our sins” (1 Cor. 15:3).
What I got out of the “real” passion is a perception of sin. On Feb. 11, 1968, I came to the realization that my wicked sins nailed Jesus to the cross!
I learned that sin brings death. When a person goes to the real passion, the crucifixion as described in God’s word, he learns this truth. “The wages of sin is death,” the Bible says in Rom. 6:23. In bearing our sins, Christ had to die.
I not only learned that sin brings death, but sin brings darkness. Man’s heart, his understanding, his morals, and his mind are all darkened by sin, pictured when darkness covered the earth during our Lord’s passion.
I also learned that sin brings desertion. We who are saved understand what was behind the cry, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” We know why the Lord Jesus prayed in anguish at that time to His God rather than, as He customarily did, to His Father. At the passion, Jesus took the sinner’s place, He actually became sin for us, He was made a curse for us, and He drank of the cup of the wrath of God Almighty!
How horrible is our sin? You learn that at the passion! As Jesus prayed in the garden He said, “If it be possible, let this cup pass from me.” If anyone could ever get a prayer answered, the Savior certainly was able to do so. Yet, He HAD to go to Calvary, He HAD to drink of that cup, because of our sin! There was no other way for you and me to be saved! Sin is SO horrible that it MUST be judged!
A man told me that if I went to the movie I would never be the same. However, in the midst of this conversation he cursed, probably without even knowing it. He may have been changed by watching the movie, but I’m afraid that he wasn’t changed with regard to his SIN.
Before a person trusts Christ, the Holy Ghost reproves him of SIN, of righteousness, and of judgment. This is what we call Holy Ghost conviction. Christ died for sinners. He call sinners to repentance. At the passion, I learned that my sin was horrible, and that I was a horrible sinner.
In order to enjoy the benefits of Christ’s sufferings on the cross, he must get a perception of sin. A person must be lost before he can be saved. He must realize he is a sinner before he can ever access the Savior. He must know he is going to hell before he will ever find the way to heaven.
However, even though the gospel is bad news in declaring our sinful state and lost condition, I’m thankful that it is also good news.
POSSESSION OF SALVATION
Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
The gospel isn’t designed merely to shock you! The purpose of the gospel is not just to impress you! The goal of the gospel is to save your soul from hell!
Why did Christ die? He died for our sins, but He also died to save you and give you eternal life!
John 3:14-16 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: 15 That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. 16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
At the real passion, I realized my lost condition! As the Israelites were bitten by deadly snakes in the wilderness, I had been bitten by sin and Satan. I was DOOMED without help from heaven.
At the passion, however, I recognized the Lamb of God, the sacrifice for my sins! I understood that He was bearing my sins on the cross.
At the passion, I relied on the Lord and His sacrifice for me. I understood that He not only died for the world, but He also died for a 14-year-old boy bearing my name, and I trusted Him as my personal Savior.
And at the passion, I received life from above! The Prince of life died, that I might live!
Look and live, my brother live!
Look to Jesus now, and live!
Tis recorded in His word, Hallelujah!
It is only that you look and live!
That’s not all! Ever since I went to the passion, I’ve never been the same. Like the dying thief,
A PROMISE OF PARADISE
Praise God! For the thief and for me, paradise was an infallible proclamation. Jesus said unto him, “Verily.” That means it is a true saying. He added, “To day shalt thou be …” That means it shall happen, indeed! The Pope’s proclamations from the chair (ex-cathedra) are not as infallible as some Catholics would have you think, but the Savior’s proclamation from the cross is as infallible as God Himself. You can take that promise to the bank of Glory!
Second, for the thief and me, paradise was an immediate relocation. Jesus said, “To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.” I don’t believe that a person’s soul stays in the grave after death, awaiting the resurrection. I believe that a saved person departs his body at death and is present with the Lord.
Third, paradise was an improved situation. The thief went from agony to ecstasy. He went from being crucified in the bitterness of death to being comforted in the bosom of Abraham (Luke 16:22-25).
At the funeral of a Christian, it is often said that the deceased has gone to a better place. That’s an understatement. Heaven is a FAR better place! According to 2 Cor. 12:4; Phil. 1:23-25; and 2 Cor. 5:6-8, we have the same promise of Paradise that the dying thief had, and maybe even better!
A PURPOSE FOR LIVING
However, as a 14-year-old boy I went to Calvary, viewed the passion from the preaching of the word of God, a “production” of the Holy Spirit, and that passion got a hold on my heart and changed my life. Now I have a real purpose for living.
I live now to thank God for His mercy! Perhaps no Bible book explains salvation so clearly as does the book of Romans. The first 11 chapters of that epistle describe the sinful condition of all mankind, the wrath that we deserve, the price that was paid to save us, the free gift of eternal life and how it is bestowed, and the mercy of God in sending the message to the Gentile nations. Then the 12th chapter begins by saying, “therefore,” we should live differently!
Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
I live now to take my cross, presenting my body a living sacrifice. Jesus told us to take our cross daily, Paul said that he died daily, and this is a daily sacrifice of self, dying to sin, and living to righteousness.
I live now to be transformed by His word in His will. Occasionally Christians debate over the “gap theory” of Gen. 1:1-3. I think it is much more important that we dedicate ourselves to the G.A.P. fact of Rom. 12:2, that Good and Acceptable and Perfect will of God! What’s more, I want to be found “standing in the G.A.P.” when Jesus returns!
Romans 12:2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
Another thing I got out of the passion was a passion:
A PASSION FOR SOULS
The word, passion, has as one of its definitions the thought of intense love. The story of Calvary is the greatest love story ever told. And as Paul wrote in the above verse, it is that great love, that burning passion of Christ, that motivates us to go after sinners with the gospel of Christ.
As I consider what Jesus did on the cross, I realize two great truths about soul-winning.
First, I understand that Jesus came to this earth to rescue sinners.
1 Timothy 1:15 This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.
Second, I understand that Jesus commissioned me to rescue sinners, representing Him.
2 Corinthians 5:18-20 And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. 20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.
If Jesus were here in the flesh today, I believe that He would be dealing with sinners, one-on-one, telling them what He had done for them and how they could be saved through faith in Him. I believe that He would be training new converts to take that same message to others.
Well, Jesus is not here in the flesh; He is seated at the right hand of the Father. However, He inhabits believers today, and I believe that He motivates every believer, leading the believer by His Spirit (Rom. 8:14) to be a soul-winner. It is up to us to follow that leading. I believe that if we focus daily on the passion, what Christ did for us to save us from hell, we will be constrained by His love to be soul-winners.
A PATTERN FOR SUFFERING
1 Peter 2:21-23 For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: 22 Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: 23 Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously:
If you live godly enough, the Bible says you will suffer persecution (2 Tim. 3:12). However, if you just live long enough, you will suffer in some fashion. Job said this was just as sure as sparks flying upward from a fire:
Job 5:7 Yet man is born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upward.
Jesus set the pattern for us, suffering silently. Guile was not found in His mouth, and He did not revile in return for being reviled. He didn’t threaten. He was silent as a lamb before his shearer is dumb:
Acts 8:32 The place of the scripture which he read was this, He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth:
Is that how you and I suffer? Or do we cry long and loud when we experience pain and problems?
Jesus set the pattern for us, suffering submissively.
Philippians 2:8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
Jesus suffered, knowing that it was the will of God. David endured suffering, believing that God was behind it (2 Sam. 16:9-11). The Bible says that suffering is part of a Christian’s obedient life:
Philippians 1:29 For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake;
Finally, Jesus suffered, seeing better things ahead:
Hebrews 12:2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Jesus despised the shame but endured the cross “for the joy that was set before him.” Likewise, the Bible says that we should keep in mind how wonderful things will be on “the other side”: Romans 8:18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time [are] not worthy [to be compared] with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
It will be worth it all
When we see Jesus.
Life’s trials will seem so small
When we see Christ.
One glimpse of His dear face
All sorrow will erase,
So bravely run the race
Til we see Christ!
There is one more thing I got from the passion.
As I said, I haven’t been to the movies in 30 years. I don’t intend to start now, even if some of my independent Baptist brethren have chosen to approve the movies and buy tickets for their church members. However, I do remember from attending movies many years ago, that either before or after the movie there was usually a preview of “coming attractions,” movies that had not yet made it to the theaters.
A PREVIEW OF COMING ATTRACTIONS
Luke 23:42 And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.
Don’t miss these coming attractions! The thief, and I as well, got a preview of coming attractions that I’m afraid most of the movie goers missed.
First of all, I believe that the thief had a preview of a resurrection. He knew that the Savior was not in defeat on the cross, but that He was accomplishing the will of God. He called him “Lord,” and no man can say today that Jesus is the Lord but by the Holy Ghost (1 Cor. 12:3). He knew that Jesus Christ was sinless, saying of Jesus that He “had done nothing amiss” (Luke 23:41).
I believe that He also had a preview of a return. He said, “Lord, remember me when thou comest.” He may have been a criminal, but He apparently knew something of the Old Testament. Perhaps He had even heard of some of the promises Jesus had given His own disciples, that He would come again (Jn. 14:1-3). The most precious truth I have learned, after the truth of the gospel itself, is that of the second coming of Christ!
I also believe that He had a preview of a reign! He said, “Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.” God was good to this man in revealing great truths to him before he died.
Consider what God showed him. First, the thief knew that he was a sinner, saying that he was getting his due for his transgressions. He knew that the wages of sin was death. He knew that Jesus was the Lord. He knew that Jesus was sinless. He knew that Jesus was coming again. In this regard, He seemed to have more knowledge and faith than did even the Lord’s own disciples, who were in discouragement, despondency, and disbelief after the Lord’s resurrection.
The thief foresaw the Savior on the cross coming back someday as a Sovereign with a crown! Like the thief, when I got a good view of Calvary, I saw that the Savior who died for my sins was also the one who was buried and three days later rose again from the dead, never to die again, but ascended to the right hand of God the Father, waiting to return, receive His people to Himself, and establish a reign of righteousness and peace on the earth!
At that day we will all sing together,
Crown Him with many crowns,
The Lamb upon His throne,
Hark, how the heavenly anthem drowns
All music but its own!
Awake my soul, and sing
Of Him who died for thee;
And hail Him as thy matchless King
Through all eternity.
GOTTEN OUT OF THE PASSION?
Jesus purchased your salvation when He died for our sins according to the scriptures, was buried, and rose again the third day according to the scriptures (1 Cor. 15:3-4). Now eternal life is the gift of God (Rom. 6:23), received by simple faith (Eph. 2:8-9; Acts 16:29-31).
If you realize that you have never truly understood the gospel before today and are willing to trust Christ as your Savior, I urge you to do it NOW. Sign the statement below, copy it and mail it to me. Signing your name won’t save you; it will only let me know that you have trusted Christ. Trusting Him from your heart, depending on what He did on Calvary in your place to take you to heaven, is what will save you. Do it, and sign below.
Dear Brother O’Neal, I have read your message on What I Got Out of the Passion, and I know that I need to be saved. Recognizing that I am a sinner who deserves to go to hell for my sin, and realizing that Christ paid the penalty for my sins when He died for me and rose again, I do now from my heart place my complete trust in Him and His sacrifice for me on the cross to pay for my sins, give me eternal life and take me to heaven. I am signing below to let you know I am not ashamed that I have now trusted Christ.
I ____________________________ , have now trusted Christ as my Savior. Please send me some helpful literature on living the Christian life, now that I’m saved.
Remember that signing your name will not save you; only trusting Christ will. However, if you have trusted Christ, look at what God says you now have:
John 3:36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.
“He that believeth on the Son …” Knowing that believing on the Son includes TRUSTING Him and His finished work on the cross, is that YOU now? Then, what does the verse say that you have? “He that believeth on the Son hath EVERLASTING LIFE …” That’s right. I didn’t tell you that; GOD said that you have everlasting life. If anyone asks you now if you’re saved, you should be able to tell them, “Yes, absolutely!” If they want to know how you know that, tell them that God said you were saved!
I realize that you are reading the online version of my book and can’t sign the online document. However, you can click below if you have just trusted Christ, send me an email, and let me know what has just taken place in your heart:
If I can help you with any questions you may have, please get in touch with me:
Pastor Michael D. O’Neal
Gospel Light Baptist Church
237 Lockett Station Road
Albany, GA 31721