Matthew 7:21-23 was the passage of Scripture that my pastor preached from yesterday, so I thought I would share a little bit about it. In case you don't have your Bible handy, here is the passage: "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.'"
This can be a bit of a haunting passage because there are so many in this world who think they're "okay," but they are very far from God. Some of them, unfortunately, are sitting in the church pews every Sunday! Many others are relying on their church membership to somehow save them. They may not attend church anymore, but they have their name on a piece of paper somewhere, so they think that's enough. Our pastor shared a quote from G. Campbell Morgan, "The blasphemy of the sanctuary is far more awful than the blasphemy of the slum." I agree completely. The people in the church should be the ones shining Christ's light to those around them. The people in the church should be authentic Christians! That in no way means that they are perfect, and I don't believe that's what this passage of Scripture is saying. It does mean, though, that their hearts have been changed by Christ, and they have a relationship with Him. It's not about "religion!" It's about a relationship with Jesus Christ. Americans especially are guilty. We've learned the language and how to "look" like a Christian, doing all sorts of "religious" activities, but it's our hearts that matter to God! It's the same as in the Scripture passage. These people looked like Christians and performed lots of good deeds and even miracles. The problem is that their hearts were far from God.
Am I saying that we shouldn't go to church or do religious activities? Certainly not!! While I know that going to church does not make you a Christian, staying away from the church doesn't necessarily make you a better one. Yes, there are problems with our churches, but that's largely because the church is full of humans! Just because we may be Christians, doesn't mean we're no longer sinners. We are not "sinless," but we should be trying to "sin less." Being Christians, we have the power of the Holy Spirit to help us do just that! Even though our "good deeds" don't save us, they should be the fruit of having a relationship with Christ. They are evidence of our love for God and one way that we shine His light to those around us. People should be able to see something different about us!
So if saying we're a Christian, going to church, or performing religious activities doesn't reveal authentic faith, what does? It's our relationship with Christ! It's our hearts! We need to be developing a closer relationship with Christ everyday. How do we do that? Spiritual disciplines! Our pastor shared a quote from Bill Hull, "The spiritual disciplines are to transformation what calisthenics are to sport." What are some of these disciplines? Here are a few: prayer, Bible study, worship, evangelism (sharing your faith), and service. There are others, but those are some of the basics. Great books on these disciplines are Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life by Donald S. Whitney and Celebration of Discipline by Richard J. Foster.
The challenge from our pastor was to consider our lives and see if we find evidences of Christ. If we don't see any evidences of Him in our lives, then maybe we're not truly Christians. If you don't have a love for Christ, if you don't have a passion for the things of God, then you need to realize that you may not be saved. If that's the case, then please (TODAY!) get on your knees and pray! Acknowledge before God that you are a sinner. Thank Him for sending His Son Jesus Christ to die on the cross, paying the penalty for your sin. Ask Him to forgive you of all your sin and to come into your heart and change your life. Take this first step and then take time to spend with Him every single day. It can be as simple as reading a passage of Scripture and then praying to God. You can lift up prayers to Him throughout your day! Find a church where you can fellowship with other Christians and learn more about God's Word and how to share your faith with others. If you have any questions about becoming a Christian, feel free to e-mail me or call me(if you have my number). I would love to talk with you!