I want to kill a religious cow today and I hope you all like red meat (spiritually speaking, of course). These steaks tend to slide down nice and easy with a tall glass of milk from the Word. But I also know that some of you may be turned off, content to stay in the comfortable, mediocre dream that we in North America like to call “christianity.”
Before we look at this cow, let’s ask ourselves some questions:
- How many Americans claim to be “christians” and have absolutely no biblical morals at all?
- When it comes to divorce, pornography, abortion and other “do nots,” why does the church find itself statistically equal to the world?
- How many people who come forward in our revival meetings and say the sinner’s prayer actually stick around and become mature, fruit-producing believers?
- How many of them go right back into the world with absolutely no change whatsoever?
Crying Myself to Sleep
When I was 5 years old, I said the sinner’s prayer for the first time, and asked Jesus into my heart. I didn’t quite understand what I was doing, but hell didn’t seem like a fun place to spend eternity, so I picked the most obvious choice. At 12 years old, I was baptized in the Holy Spirit and spoke with other tongues. Things should have been “golden” from there on out, right? … Wrong.
From 15 to 21, I lived like a complete heathen from hell – drinking, doing drugs, listening to heavy metal, being promiscuous … doing everything I could to gorge this flesh. You would think that I would have been happy, but I was actually quite miserable. I would party until the wee hours of the morning, then I would come home and listen to Keith Green, and just cry myself to sleep. Paul claimed to be the worst of sinners … I claim that I was the most pathetic of sinners.
That was over 20 years ago, but during that time … was I still “saved?”
A Moment in Time
Most christians narrow their “salvation experience” down to a certain event. It could have been an emotionally-fueled church service where they answered an altar call, walked down the aisle, got on their knees, said the “sinner’s prayer” and asked Jesus into their heart. Maybe it was a desperate situation where their life was in danger and they looked to heaven and said “Help!” It’s also possible that they could have simply prayed with someone and asked Jesus into their heart. However it came to pass, we can usually remember a specific time when we were “converted.”
While the words “convert” and “converted” are used in the Word, Jesus never talked about making converts, He talked about making “disciples.”
“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…”
Conversion implies a change of heart, and that’s a good thing, but if that were the only thing needful to become part of the Kingdom, Jesus would have said, “Go make converts.” Jesus was talking to His disciples … men who had left everything (jobs, businesses, even family) to follow and learn from Him. When He told them to “go make disciples,” do you think they were thinking “converts?”
Good Bye, Cow
OK, let’s look at the cow. We’ve been raised to believe that if we say “the sinner’s prayer” and “ask Jesus into our hearts,” then we are saved. This is not true.
Nowhere in the Bible do you find the disciples praying with someone to ask Jesus into his heart.
Nowhere do you find someone saying “the sinner’s prayer,” filling out a “salvation card” and putting it in the offering pan to show that they are saved.
No where in the Bible is it recommended that you go to church on Sunday morning to be saved.
These man-made “techniques” will not save you. I’m not taking away from Jesus being the Way, the Truth and the Life. I’m not discrediting your salvation if you said the sinner’s prayer (I did too). What I’m saying is that saying a “magic mantra” or faithfully going to a building every Sunday is not a “free pass” into the Kingdom.
How, Then, Shall I be Saved?
It’s really quite simple … Repent and follow Him.
To repent not only means to feel sorry for your sin, it also means to turn away from it and have nothing more to do with it. Not only does it mean to forsake your old sins and change how you act, but repent also means to change how you THINK and RELATE to the world around you! We accomplish this facet of repentance by renewing our minds according to His Word.
“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
As your mind is being transformed (a process that will continue until you die), you will be faced with choices, changes and challenges that will, in essence, cause you to fulfill the second part of salvation … you will be following Him.
At any point during this process, it is your choice whether to walk away from your discipleship or to obey.
Unfortunately, people walk away every day – many of them will walk away right after they say the sinner’s prayer. Both Judas and Peter walked away. Peter returned and became one of the greatest apostles ever known. Judas … well, let’s just say that He learned the truth about “eternal security” the hard way.
I Wasn’t Saved
The hard truth of the matter is that if I had died in my teenage years, I probably would have gone to hell. I had great intentions – some might have said that I had a “heart for God,” but when the rubber met the road, I was an idolater and an addict who was moved by a beautiful song, but had no real intention of forsaking my idols.
Thank you, Lord, for your mercy. You see, He continues to call us … all of us. Right in the middle of our sin, He calls … and will continue to call. But there will come a time when He returns that the calling will stop, and we will be judged where we stand. In Romans 2:6, it says that He “will render to each one according to his deeds.”
Are we His disciples? Have we forsaken all to follow Him?
It is where you stand on that Day, and in that Hour that will determine whether you’re saved.
Further reading: How the Christian “Salvation Equation” Conflicts with the Bible