Thursday, January 22, 2009

Saved for Sure

Earlier this week, my husband and I had a "Costco" date. We got our Polish dogs and salad and sat down in the food court to eat. The fellow across from us immediately struck up a conversation. He was a pretty jovial fellow, and we enjoyed friendly banter back and forth. Mike gave the man a Gospel tract, which he readily accepted with the comment that he doesn't really see the need to go to church. I asked him about G-d, to which he replied that, "Oh Ya---I believe in G-d!" Mike encouraged him to read the tract, and the fellow said he would.

I wish I had thought fast know how you always think of things afterwards?! I should have followed up my question by asking him if he believed in Hell!

People do not see their need of the Savior, not because they don't believe in G-d, but because they don't believe in Hell and the possibility of going there! Their thinking is that G-d is so loving and so merciful and good, that He would never send anyone to that place. After all, they, themselves, are basically a good person! So, they reason, as long as they pay their bills and treat everyone right, they stand a good chance of getting to heaven.

In talking to that man the other day, he also made it very clear that he just doesn't really think about G-d, or find the need to read the Bible. G-d is just not in his thoughts. This reminds me of the verse in Romans 1:28---"
And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;"

I find that this kind of thinking is pervasive in our society. Many people do not give any thought to their souls or eternity. They meander through life with no need or hunger for G-d. What a rude awakening awaits them!

Truly, I believe that this thinking stems from the fact that people in our society have not been taught the Ten Commandments. This reminder that we are sinners and that G-d is Holy has long been removed from our schools and public meeting places.

The Apostle Paul explained why the Ten Commandments are so important: they are a schoolmaster, teaching us what sin is. Once we know what sin is in G-d's eyes, the Holy Spirit can then bring conviction to our hearts. Galatians 3:24--"Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith."

Before we can know that we need a Savior, we need to know that we are sinners, right?! Why a Savior if we can get to heaven by being good?!!

Once we realize that we are sinners before a Holy G-d, then we realize that we need a remedy. This leads us to the point where we must decide to repent of our sins or remain in them.
Repentance is not merely being sorry. Many times people are sorry---sorry they got caught, sorry they made a bad decision and things turned out wrong, sorry about the consequences----but not truly sorry for their sin, enough to turn from it. That is true repentance.

This is why I believe that it is so very wrong to tell people that all they need to do is pray a prayer, accepting Christ as their Savior, and they will be saved. In our generation, huge churches have built their bus routes and memberships on telling this lie. I have read their materials instructing others how to win souls. They go something like this:

"You want to go to heaven, don't you?" Nod your head yes as you say this. "Jesus died on the cross for you so you can go to heaven. If you will just pray and accept Jesus as your Savior, you will be saved and can go to heaven. Do you believe that Jesus died on the cross for you?" Nod your head as you ask this question. "Well, then, will you pray and ask Jesus into your heart? I'll pray with you."

They then lead this person in a prayer, and put one more notch on their tally sheet. They get the person to come to church and be baptized and involved in activities. Later, when the person does get convicted of sin and the Holy Spirit deals with them about the condition of their soul, they reason that they already prayed, so they're already saved. How tragic is that?!

I believe it is important that we realize our responsibility in evangelizing the lost is this: "In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;"--II Tim. 2:25

Before anyone can be saved, they must acknowledge that they are a sinner. Going through some of the Ten Commandments is a good way to reveal that none of us can keep them! "For all have sinned and come short of the glory of G-d."

Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron illustrate this so well, using the Ten Commandments, on their website, . They also provide some great Gospel tracts to use in showing people their sinful condition and what to do to be saved.

Belief is a good start, but James 2:19 says, "Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble."

Believing in Jesus Christ, worshipping Him, praying to Him is not salvation. Today, the word "believe" is understood as an intellectual assent to something. Believing on Jesus Christ, in Bible terms, is more than just a mental acknowledgment, it is a complete trust in and reliance upon His finished work on the cross to save us.

And, if we truly believe with our hearts, then we will have first acknowledged the fact that we are sinners, and that we need to repent and then trust in the Blood of Jesus Christ alone to save us.

Matthew 7:21-23 is a very sobering passage:
"Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity."

Paul admonishes us in II Cor. 13:5---"Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?"

I believe the L-rd is coming soon. It would be good to do as Peter says in II Peter 1:10---

"Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:"

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