Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Are you a Christian because you walked an aisle? Part 3

So, you think you're a Christian because you said a prayer or walked an aisle when you were younger.

Maybe you were sitting in church (like I was) and as the pianist played, “I Surrender All”, you had the feeling that YES - you do want to surrender all to Jesus – so you walked to the front and told the world that you want to be a Christian.

Maybe it was during the quiet prayer at the end of the service and the Pastor had everyone bow their heads and close their eyes. Then he asked for anyone who wanted to become a Christian to raise their hands – and you did (again, me too). Then you silently repeated the prayer after the Pastor that stated you were sorry for the sins in your life and that you wanted God to forgive you and give you eternal life through Jesus Christ.


That is fantastic! What a wonderful experience it is to repent of your sins and give your life over to Jesus as Savior and Lord of your life.

Oh, now there is the fine print. Give your life to Jesus and make Him Lord of your life? Did that happen? Or did you just say the prayer and ask God to forgive you because you truly do not want to go to hell for the sins you commit?

Jesus is not a “get out of hell free” card. Yes, eternal life in heaven, in the presence of God, forever in paradise is free, but it will cost you everything you have. It is a life change. There must be evidence of this change.

 Now I am not talking like those TV preachers who want you to send all your money to their “ministry” so that you can have your best life now or be healed of any and all that ails you. If you wonder about these preachers, you should read the book of Jude. It won’t take long. It is only one chapter. He has many warnings about these ‘preachers’.

What I am talking about is what it means to be a true Christian. Jesus gives a strong warning about who will actually make it through the pearly gates and who is actually self-deceived.

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’ {Matthew 7:21-23}

You see, these people not only call Jesus lord, they call him ‘Lord, Lord’ meaning they thought they knew Him well. They thought they had a close relationship with Him. They did many acts in His name. However, they were self-deceived.

Right before this warning, Jesus also talks about how many people will be going to heaven (narrow gate).  

“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it.  For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it. {Matthew 7:13-14} 

The way is narrow and there are few who find it. Please, please, please be sure you are on the right path. More than saying a prayer and walking an aisle, you should be actually following Jesus. Being a Christian means being “Christ-like”. Do you want to be like Christ? Do you know who He is or what He is like?

In the letter to the Galatians, Paul gives a list of deeds that are consistent with a true believer (fruit of the Spirit) and in Romans 1:29-31, he gives a list of deeds of someone who is an unbeliever (works of the flesh). Can you identify with any of the characteristics below (surely you know which list is which)? Would you say you are more like the black square or the blue one?



      

Which list describes your life? I usually am not a fan of the Message translation of the Bible (they are a little too free with their translation of the text sometimes), but in this case, it gives a good description of what a non-believer’s life may include:

 It is obvious what kind of life develops out of trying to get your own way all the time: repetitive, loveless, cheap sex; a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness; trinket gods; magic-show religion; paranoid loneliness; cutthroat competition; all-consuming-yet-never-satisfied wants; a brutal temper; an impotence to love or be loved; divided homes and divided lives; small-minded and lopsided pursuits; the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival; uncontrolled and uncontrollable addictions; ugly parodies of community. I could go on. This isn't the first time I have warned you, you know. If you use your freedom this way, you will not inherit God's kingdom. {Galatians 5:19-21, the Message} 

Wow, between the black box and that description from Galatians, it is clear that at least in some point in all of our lives, we can be found in those lists.

The question is which list do you most identify with now? Do you see a pattern of change in your life – moving away from sin and towards the fruit of the Spirit?

If you have made Jesus Lord of your life and you desire to be more like Him, you will see more love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. You will start to feel uncomfortable with the sin in your life (like wearing an itchy wool sweater in the summer heat).

If you repeated a prayer or walked an aisle when you were younger but have not noticed a change in your heart, then now is the time (do not delay) to pray to God and ask Him to truly forgive your sins, repent (which means turn away from the sin in your life) and follow after Christ (a good way to start this is to read your Bible daily).

Don't forget about our giveaway. This is the last week to enter.
The winner will be drawn on April 1st (no foolin').




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