Published Saturday, April 14, 2012
By Daniel Ausbun, First Baptist Church, Moreland
Billy Graham has stated that 75 percent of people who attend church are not born again.
Jesus said there will be many people who confidently stand before Him at judgment, only to discover He never knew them. Two frightening Bible verses in Matthew 7:22-23 declare, “On that day many will say to Me, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in Your name, drive out demons in Your name, and do many miracles in Your name?’ Then I will announce to them, ‘I never knew you! Depart from Me, you lawbreakers!’”
There is a cultural Christianity that’s prevalent in the South. An identity. Similar to eating bar-be-cue, cheering for Georgia, driving a truck or voting Republican. This is frightening. Many people reading this “grew up” Christian, know that Jesus died on a cross and rose again, and even own several Bibles.
But the Jesus in Scripture back then, is not the Jesus of their lives today.
Jesus said it’s actually hard to believe. “How narrow is the gate and difficult the road that leads to life, and few find it” (Matthew 7:14). What Jesus is saying is to become a follower of Christ, you cannot go down the same road and through the same gate as everyone else. There should be something different about being born again – countercultural.
People are breezing through the wide, comfortable, inviting gates with all their baggage, their self-needs, their self-esteem, and their desire for fulfillment and self-satisfaction.
Why is the narrow gate so hard to pass through? Because Jesus doesn’t want to meet our needs — our worldly, earthly, human needs. He wants you to be willing to abandon everything for the cause of Christ. Jesus said, “If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me” (Luke 9:23).
If salvation is a difficult road, then who can be saved? Romans 10:13 says, “For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Everyone can be saved, but not everyone who prayed a magic prayer when they were 8, got baptized three weeks later and nothing changed during their “conversion,” are Christians.
Many deceived Christians try to make a fair exchange with their sin. For example, a deceived person sees something wrong in her life, but instead of dealing with her sin and examining whether she’s a true Christian, she finds something right with her life and makes a fair exchange. Instead of saying, “I’m a believer, should I be doing this?” she says, “Well, I know I do that, but look what else I do!”
Remember, Satan caused sin through deception, and people still die deceived (Genesis 3:13).
How could you know if you’re saved? We’re told to examine and test ourselves to see if we’re saved (II Corinthians 13:5). The Bible gives us some attributes of what a believer’s life should look like.
First, a believer perseveres. Nothing lasts today—marriages, families, jobs, friends, or your health. But a relationship with Christ does and will last.
Second, a believer produces spiritual fruit. Jesus said you’ll be able to recognize who’s really saved by their fruit (Matthew 7:16). John the Baptist preached we should produce fruit in keeping with repentance (Matthew 3:8). God searches for the fruit of actions, not intentions.
Third, a believer doesn’t live a double life, also known as hypocrisy. Jesus spoke of those living the double life, “Isaiah prophesied correctly about you hypocrites, as it is written: These people honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me” (Mark 7:6). Someone whose heart is close to Christ learns and follows His commands. Jesus said unless your righteousness surpasses the Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:20).
The visible church today is jammed full of people who aren’t Christians, but don’t know it. There are supposedly 2 billion Christians on earth. Having positive feelings about God or Jesus doesn’t qualify you as a born again Christian. Jeremiah 17:9 reminds us our feelings lie. Believers do not “feel” they’re saved.
Look beyond all your false assurance, religious activity, and fair exchanges — do you live with a desire for
obedience to the Word of God? And when you disobey it, as we all do daily, do you have a sense of conviction that draws you to confess it to God?
If that isn’t there, it’s a fair question whether you’re a Christian.