It was early morning, as I stepped out into the crisp fall air. My nose wrinkled as the smell of burning leaves assailed it. Assuming that the neighbor was burning leaves, I glanced towards their house. But instead of burning leaves, I saw a burning house! Could it be? Yes! The house was definitely on fire. What to do? “Call the fire company!” I shrieked to someone standing nearby, as I ran towards the burning house.
“Mr. Brown! Mr. Brown! Your house is on fire!” I screamed. The front door was unlocked, so I pushed my way through. The fire seemed to be at the very back of the house, so we were safe for now.
I found Mr. Brown lying on the couch, fast asleep.
“Mr. Brown! Your house is on fire!”
Mr. Brown raised his head and stared at me. “Okay. Thanks for telling me, ” he said, as he put his head back down on the maroon-colored pillow.
I stood for a few seconds in amazed disbelief and then tried again.
“Mr. Brown, do you understand what I am saying? Your house! It’s on fire!” I shouted.
Mr. Brown, looking half-annoyed this time, said, “Yes! I heard you the first time! I believe you. There is no need to tell me again.” and closed his eyes again.
Thinking he may be half-asleep and not quite with it, I decided to make one last ditch effort at warning him.
“Mr. Brown! If you don’t get out of here, you may lose your life! We need to get out now!”
This time Mr. Brown sat up and looked me in the eye. “Look, I hear what you are saying. Will you just leave me alone? Please? I will get out after awhile. I only smell a bit of smoke. You go on ahead.”
I stared at him. Was he losing his mind? I didn’t know what else to do, so I turned and left him laying there on his sofa in his burning house. As I stumbled through the rocky soil to my house, I couldn’t believe what had just happened. Could it be that this man, who seemed to be pretty intelligent, was just laying there as his house burned down around him? The morning had grown quite foggy and smoky and I couldn’t see…where was I going? I stumbled and fell. I hit my head…
And then, suddenly, I found myself in my bed. It was a dream. And, yet, something about it was very real.
If Mr. Brown believed that his house was on fire, like he said he did, why didn’t he get up? Why didn’t he do something about it? Why did he just continue to lay there on that old sofa like it was any old morning?
If Mr. Brown truly believed, he would get off of that sofa and out of the house. His mouth spoke the words that he believed what I was saying, but his actions showed that he really didn’t believe.
As the details of that dream continued twisting and turning in my head, I thought of all of the people who say that they believe in Jesus. They say they are Christians. And yet that belief hasn’t yielded any change at all in their lives. They still continue in their worldly habits. Most of their time is consumed with selfish pursuits. They do not thirst for Truth. They may or may not go to church. There is no evidence of spiritual growth and a deepening understanding of God and His Word.
While I knew it wasn’t my place to judge their eternal destinies, I knew that I had to change my thinking from this day forth. I couldn’t believe someone was saved just because they said they believed in Jesus. If their life didn’t match the words, I had to consider that they might not be saved. This was not about judging their outward behavior. This was about loving them enough to care about their eternal destiny.
You see, true belief requires action, whether we are referring to a burning house or our eternal destiny.
May we all be more careful about placing that “saved” stamp on those who say with their mouths they believe but have no fruits to go along with that statement. And may we continue, as always, in growing in our knowledge of God and His Word and in examining our own hearts and minds for sin.
I John 2: 3-5 Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. 4 He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5 But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him.
Matthew 7: 17-19 Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Therefore by their fruits you will know them.
James 2: 17-24 Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. 18 But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. 19 You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble! 20 But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? 22 Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? 23 And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” And he was called the friend of God. 24 You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only.