So let’s say you and I live in Indiana. You are without a car and license but have an urgent need to get to California. I am your best friend and am out of a job right now, so you ask me to drive you there.
Okay, so that probably wouldn’t happen, but stick with me, would you?
We get in my car and start off on our adventure. You aren’t paying attention to the road signs as we talk with one another. An hour or two later you grow drowsy and fall asleep. When you wake up a few hours later, you see a big sign that says “Welcome to Pennsylvania”.
What?? You are quickly wide awake. You ask me what in the world are you doing? with some panic in your voice. I look at the sign and then look at you. I calmly acknowledge that I am definitely not going in the right direction.
What do you want me to do at this point? How would I acknowledge that I am serious about the grave error that I have committed against you?
Would I simply stop the car and tell you how very sorry I was? Or perhaps go buy you a nice dinner?
Obviously, I would turn around and start going the right direction.
So, here’s the thing– why exactly aren’t we taught that this is the natural response of someone who truly believes in God for His free gift of salvation through Jesus Christ? We have committed a grave sin against God and yet many of us say we’re sorry but then keep living the same life we have always lived, never changing direction and continually abusing the grace of a loving, holy God. Could that possibly mean that we haven’t repented at all? It is something very serious to ponder.
So why don’t we view a decision to follow Christ with this in mind?
Probably because Satan has weaved a fantastic lie that is extremely appealing to all of us in our human form– we can be saved (and skip hell) by just saying a quick prayer, letting Jesus know we believe that He died for us. But that’s just not true.
Yes, I said it. It’s not true. Nowhere in scripture is there indication that this is true. True salvation is always followed by some form of fruit. You cannot read the Bible without understanding this very important fact. (Matthew 7:16; I John 2:3-6; Galatians 5:19-26)
Remember my favorite saying?? It’s about direction; not perfection. When we are saved, we turn around and start heading a different direction– one that goes against the crowd. Oh, sometimes we mess up and get turned around briefly, but, generally, we are going towards God and away from the world. The very nature of salvation demands this change in direction. It’s not something you can choose or have to choose. It just is, according to God’s Word.
Now, lest you think I am teaching a works-based salvation, I certainly am not. There is nothing you or I could do to merit salvation. Ever. We have broken God’s laws– no matter how little we have sinned and that sin demands justice. Jesus died to pay the price for our sin. When we get that– I mean really get that— then repentance isn’t a “have to” but a “want to”. The change in direction is as natural as breathing. It’s just what you do if you are a true disciple.
Don’t let the lie of easy believism steal your soul or the souls of those you love. If someone claims to know Christ but has never shown any fruit whatsoever, talk to them. Don’t tell them they are going to hell– since you are not the judge and that method won’t be effective, anyway. But it’s ok to share your concerns. In fact, if a bus were heading towards your loved one, wouldn’t you shout a warning? I would say the same holds true if we are fearing eternal damnation for them.
Look, I know we are worried about what people think. I struggle with that, too. We don’t want to be “over the top” and we don’t want to annoy anyone. We don’t want to be called the “Jesus freak” or ruin our reputation at work or in the family. But I have to wonder– wouldn’t that mean that we are more concerned about ourselves than we are about the person who is in danger of eternal hell fire?
It is certainly something to think about, isn’t it?