As I look out over a congregation, any group that claims to be mostly made of up Believers, I am haunted by two things that always leave me wondering. You see, Jesus said in Matthew chapter seven there will be people who think they are saved, but are not. They have fruit, but it’s bad fruit. When judgement comes, they think they are in, but will hear “depart from me, I never knew you”. The second thing is a story I know from a very wise and Godly man. When he was younger, he entered the ministry and began to pastor. One evening he attended a revival meeting to support some of the work done in his community, and realized in the midst of the meeting, he didn’t personally know Jesus. He knew the answers, he had a lot of Bible knowledge, he pastored a church and had even shared with others how to become a believer, but he himself never had.
Makes me wonder, as I look over a group of people in a service, at a meeting, gathered together, how many of them think they are saved, but if they died right now would hear “depart from me”. I constantly have to check myself, to see how I am holding up. Do I know for certain that Jesus has saved me?
I think we hold part of the blame as Pastors and leaders. Something that I have come to believe and hold deeply is no one gets saved until they get lost. For someone to come to faith in Christ, they must be convicted of sin by the Holy Spirit. Their soul must see the depths of their own depravity and cry out to God “have mercy on me, a sinner”. It’s part of this realization that let me to Reformed Theology, but that’s a different blog (i’ll write it soon, save your bullets). Sometimes I fear we promise life and purpose and peace without talking about sin and it’s soul destroying realities. We neglect to make sure they understand what they are being saved FROM. If there is no repentance, no conviction of sin, I believe there is no salvation.
Along those same lines, I think we have let too many people become too complacent, thinking that church attendance is sufficient for salvation. The reality is a bunch of church attenders with no fruit in their lives. Peter speaks directly too that in 2 Peter chapter one. If we are not growing in faith, virtue, knowledge, self control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection and love, we are not saved.
The most simplistic way to put it, if someone is not capable of acting like a Christian, they are not. I wonder how often we make excuses for the Holy Spirit, when the real problem is, the Holy Spirit isn’t in that person. We watch people backslide, fall away, produce no fruit and do nothing but sit in a pew, and we make an excuse. Maybe we just need to face the reality that perhaps that person was never saved at all. Maybe it’s the members, maybe the deacons, maybe the pastors, maybe the leaders. . . maybe even the bloggers? What do you think?