ARE WE LETTING THEM DOWN?

Most denominational churches are right on half of the Bible message. From those pulpits the people hear legitimate truths about daily Christian living, being kind, benevolent toward the needy, tolerant etc. But the half of the Bible that gives instructions about getting into Christ, making a covenant with God, is omitted and often outright denied. I meet many members of those churches and find them to be spiritual minded, self sacrificing, and committed to practicing real Christianity. It is sickening to see good, well meaning people being misled about the vital matter of how to be saved. The most sickening of all is what too many of us are not doing to help. Frankly, we are letting them down and in so doing we may be letting ourselves down also. If one could be saved by good deeds they would be saved and it wouldn’t matter. But good deeds can’t save. Being in Christ is the only salvation.

Jesus showed the urgency of being in Him when He said that at the judgment He will say to many “I never knew you. Depart from me.” (Mat. 7:23) The previous verse tells us that this will be said to people who had “prophesied in His name, cast out demons in His name, and had done many wonderful works in His name.” They had that half of it right. Why then did  Jesus say to them, “I never knew you, depart from me”?

Earlier in that context Jesus cited the problem as He warned about “false prophets that come to you in sheep’s clothing.” (Verse 15) These people who will be turned away at the judgment are people who were misled by false prophets. Then Jesus said that you don’t get into the kingdom by saying, “Lord, Lord” but by obeying the will of the Father in heaven. (vs.21) These folks had been taught, as so many have today,  that the “sinner’s prayer,” (Lord, Lord, come into my heart and save me) is the way to prepare for eternity. They had not obeyed Jesus and thus He didn’t know them. The Bible says, “He became the author of eternal salvation to those who obey Him.” (Heb. 5:9) What does it mean to obey Him?

When Jesus sent out His disciples to preach the Gospel to every person, He prescribed exactly what they were to teach people to do, “He who believes and is baptized shall be saved. He who does not believe will be condemned.’ (Mark 16:15-16, Mat. 28:19-20) ) Does this mean that baptism has the power to save us? No. He did not say that. What He did say was that He will save those who obey His command. It was in this sense that the apostle Paul said that being baptized puts one into Christ. “As many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ,” (Gal. 3:27) Have you realized that baptism is the only act of which the Bible says it puts us into Christ? On Pentecost day (Acts 2) when the people asked “What shall we do?” the inspired apostle Peter said, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”(Acts 2:28) How could words say it any plainer?

But Satan has ministers also and their specialty is countering God’s provisions for saving man. (2 Cor. 11:15) He deceives people on this point by blurring the distinction between being saved “not of works” and being saved “without works.” These are not the same. The Bible says we are saved “not of works,” (Eph. 2:8) that is, works do not earn salvation. It also says we are not saved “without works.” The Bible says “Faith without works is dead.” (James 2:19) By confusing these two Satan gets many well meaning people to apply man’s idea of how to get into Christ instead of God’s idea.

Now, why would anyone who knows this truth decline to try and help those who do not know it? The most frequent reason is we are afraid it might offend them. So not offending them becomes more important than their souls’ eternal destiny. In fact, there are now many preachers among us who not only refuse to tell them the truth, they re-enforce their error by actually teaching the same thing that Jesus said condemned them, “lawlessness.” (vs. 23) These men are betraying them.

Considering that sad scene, people being turned away at the judgment, if you could talk to those people before that day, what would you say to them? Wouldn’t you tell them what Jesus said, that lawlessness is not the way? We will all be there, standing before the judgment seat of Christ. (2 Cor. 5:10) How would you like to be standing there, watching these people being turned away to be lost eternally, and have them turn to you and say, “Why didn’t you tell me?” This is what I mean by “We may be letting ourselves down too.” We do have the chance to talk to them before that day. Let’s tell them the truth now.

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