Is it possible that an individual could go to church, put some money in the collection plate occasionally, even belong to a church, and yet be lost spiritually?
Jesus, Himself, raised the grave issue as to whether a person can attend church, sing the songs, and can even be involved in areas of Christian service such as teaching Sunday school, and yet not genuinely be headed for heaven at the end of life’s road. Jesus opened His heart and taught the people, and part of what He said relating to this important issue is found in Matthew 7.
Here’s the text of what He said: “Not everyone who says to me, `Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven…” Then Jesus got even more explicit, saying, “but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” Now here’s the part that makes you sit straight up and take notice. “Many will say to me on that day, `Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, “I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!” (Matthew 7:21-23). Those words, “I never knew you!” are shocking and sobering.
Frankly, I have a growing concern for masses of men and women today who nominally go through the motions of a Christian experience, yet their lives seemingly are unaffected by what they believe. The bottom line is that their marriages are no different; their business dealings are unaffected; their language sounds much like the person’s who says he doesn’t buy into that God business. There is little that sets them apart, indicating that God has touched their lives and they are His children.
If I had a friend whose blood pressure was going higher and higher every day, and I knew that this condition would ultimately end in death by a stroke, and I understood that taking an aspirin every day would eliminate the problem, and I kept my silence and said to myself, “Health is a personal matter–it’s between my friend and God,” I would not only be a poor friend, but I would also share blame in the death of that person. So it is, friend, with the individual who may have his name on the membership roster of a church, who has a false security and doesn’t really understand what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ. What are the marks of a true Christian? Are there some identifying characteristics of such a person, some criteria which Jesus laid down by which I can measure my life and see if I really am headed for heaven or not? I believe that there are at least four: commitment, conversion, confession, and change. Let’s ponder that first one — commitment.
Do you remember what Jesus said when he first called the disciples? He never gave them the carrot and stick approach such as, “If you join my church, you’ll go to heaven, and if you don’t, you are headed for the hot spot!” No, he looked into the eyes of people and said, “Follow me!” It was just that simple. And they followed Him from many walks of life. Farmers, fishermen, a tax-collector, ordinary laborers and businessmen comprised the motley crew who enrolled in His company for those three years when Jesus taught the multitude.
Their response to His call: COMMITMENT. They showed their colors and ran up their flag. Commitment means identification. When you have really been in His presence, He makes His mark on your life, and that, friend, is obvious to the world about us. Commitment is your response to His call.
Resource Reading: Luke 9:23-36
Text: Then he said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” Luke 9:23
GUIDELINES with Harold Sala – September 18, 2017