Yesterday I blogged the first entry about salvation. I get lots of questions on this topic because there are an abundance of people in our lives who claim to be Christians and their actions are quite contrary to their words. Why is this? It is because so many have the wrong understanding of salvation.
Lots of people out there “get saved” because someone wanted to scare the hell out of them. Someone presents the threat of hell and uses all the scary verses in the Bible about what it is like, and people naturally don’t want to go there, so they are willing to pray a prayer! Others pray a prayer of salvation because they think this is a good and helpful thing to my life- this is the “well it can’t hurt” attitude of salvation. They figure they already have been baptized and confirmed and they are a pretty good person, so they figure they can just seal the deal by doing this. Far too many people want to get saved because they think Jesus will give them what they want- God as the cosmic Santa Clause, the genie in the bottle, rub the magic lamp. Then it becomes all about me and nothing about glorifying God, or wanting to live for Him, or understanding I am a sinner.
Sadly, I see so many people that want to be saved “in their sin” and not “from their sin” –The message of the contemporary churches is come as you are, and stay that way. Easy believism rules the day! In this seeker/market driven mentality a person can come to church, hear about Jesus, and God, and listen to a few carefully selected Bible verses that will confirm that while they may not be perfect, they just are not that bad. The preacher nudges his church attendees in the direction of seeing what a sinner is, but there is little to convict them that they actually are one! The message is that it is okay to keep living as you are – there is no confrontation about obvious sin, no reason to confront immorality or unbiblical divorce or living together. The idea is just “get saved” “ask Jesus into your heart” and keep on living your life the way you always have. They say that one day you will turn it around, when you are ready.
Yes, I realize some of you reading today might be upset at this critique of some churches, and some might accuse me of being judgmental. I accept your critique and your criticism and in love, I tell you I don’t care if you criticize me. It is truly more important that these heresies are exposed for what they are: cheap grace and not a true presentation of the gospel or the salvation bought for us by Christ. And because harm reduction theology seems to rule the day in the evangelical churches of America we are meeting more and more people who claim to be Christians but are unconverted.
I have been presented with people who claim to be saved, can tell me all the “requirements” for salvation, and can point to a time in their life where they prayed or walked an aisle but now they live like the devil. Often these folks claim to have received Christ as a child, or on a street corner, or at some evangelistic conference.
When a person professes Christ and it is a true conversion, there WILL be a change in their life. Those who say you can continue living the way you please, with a lifestyle full of sinful practices and activities are self-deceived.
2 Cor. 5:17 tells us that there has been a transformation inside- the believer is a new creation, the old has passed away, we have become new. The new wineskin does not leak like the old one. It does not behave in the same manner. One pastor said this: “Who or what you are vertically changes how you behave horizontally.” If there has been a vertical change, where the old has been made new positionally, then there will be a horizontal change- you will live life differently, behave differently, and think differently.
It is so important to help people understand that if their behavior is carnal on a consistent basis they may not really be saved.