The Unsaved “Christian”

Holtonumc   -  

I’ve been reading the book, “The Unsaved “Christian”” by Dean Inserra, which talks about the strong influence of Cultural Christianity, whereby many American people become familiar with Christianity, perhaps they even grew up going to church, they believe in God, fight for prayer in school, vote their values, and think they are Christians, however in reality they have never entered into a saving relationship with Jesus. They think that just because they DO certain things they are saved and going to heaven (go to church, believe in God, be a good person, do good things, give money to the church or parachurch organizations). When in reality, our Christianized culture has actually inoculated them from the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ, rather than caused them to embrace Jesus and discipleship.

Here in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7), Jesus has been teaching hard truths about what it means to be a part of God’s coming kingdom, or to follow and be a disciple of Jesus. In fact, his teaching is so lofty, so difficult, that it seems impossible. How can we love our enemy, and pray for those who persecute us? How can we offer our other cheek when someone slaps us on the one cheek? Who could do this? The answer is, no one, because we are all sinners. We are not nearly as good as we think we are, and our sin separates us from a holy God and the righteousness we are meant to live (as outlined in the Sermon). The only way we can orient ourselves to God’s kingdom and be more righteous than the Jewish religious leaders is if we admit our sin and surrender our lives to Jesus so we can be in an eternal relationship with him, and then he changes us from the inside out through his Holy Spirit..

In Matthew 7:21-23 Jesus says, “not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father, who is in heaven.” At first this sounds like our being a part of God’s kingdom is about what we do (I.e. put Jesus’ teachings into practice and you will be saved and part of God’s eternal kingdom), when in fact we can’t actually do all of his teachings. We will never be able to do everything he has taught us apart from his grace and power. And so Jesus goes on to clarify this by saying, “Many will say to me on that day (the day of Judgment), “Lord, Lord, did we not prophecy in your name and in your name drive out demons, and in your name performed many miracles.” In other words, we did all these good things for you. We gave to the church, and to the poor. We set up medical clinics and food drives in your name. We fought against injustice in your name. But then Jesus says those sobering and penetrating words, “”Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ (Matt. 7:23)“ We could do all these good things for Jesus, and still miss the mark and not be admitted into his eternal kingdom, because the point isn’t in doing good things, it is in knowing Jesus. Having a personal saving relationship with him by accepting the fact that I’m a sinner, and only through the death and resurrection of Jesus can I be forgiven of my sin and come into relationship with him, and to know him in a personal way. As Jesus said in John 17:3, ”Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.“

Do you consider yourself to be a Christian? Do you think you are “saved” and will go to heaven when you die? Why? If your answer begins with, “because I did…”, then you are not saved. Because there is nothing you can do to be saved, Jesus has already done it for you. We admit our sin, repent of it (I.e. commit to turning away from it), accept his gift of grace and forgiveness, and submit or yield to his leadership over us. We still do good things for God, but it is out of gratitude, appreciation, and love for Jesus and what he has done for us, not becuase of what we have to do to earn our way, or gain God’s approval (see Eph. 2:8-9).