SO YOU CALL YOURSELF A CHRISTIAN?
by Trace Brown
How sure are you that you are right? Would you be willing to bet your eternity on it? Actually you are, and what if you are wrong? There would be HELL to pay! You say “Well, when I was eleven I gave my heart to the Jesus. Isn’t that enough?” That is a great question and one that will require looking into the scriptures to answer. In 2 Corinthians 13:5 it says for us to: “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?”
First let us look at the scriptures dealing with salvation, i.e. “Eternal Life”. In John 3:3 it states “Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." and then goes on to say in John 3:16 that ”For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Is it possible that you could have taken John 3:16 to heart and didn’t read or understand the rest of what Jesus was telling Nicodemus? In James 2:19 we are told that ”Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.” So is “belief in Jesus” enough? Let us dive into more scriptures which I believe hold the key to answer this question. Now in Romans 10:9-10 it states “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” Here once again if we just look at the surface meaning of this scripture it would seem that all one would have to do is to profess Jesus with our mouth and believe that He rose from the dead to be saved. But is this what these scriptures are saying or is there a deeper meaning that we should be looking for?
We will now begin the journey to see if confessing the Lord Jesus with our mouth i.e. “asking Him into our heart” is sufficient enough to base our eternal security on. I would like to show you some people who tried the “confession only” method as the means of their salvation. The first place I would like to go to is to a parable in Matthew 25:1-13. It states “1Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. 2And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. 3They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: 4But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. 5While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. 6And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. 7Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. 8And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. 9But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. 10And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut. 11Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. 12But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not. 13Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.”
This scripture is about the 5 foolish and 5 wise virgins. I would like to point out a couple of interesting facts about these virgins. The first thing is that they were all virgins which by nature meant that they had set themselves apart. Second, I would like to point out that they were both looking for the bridegroom to come. These are people professing to be believers. However when the bridegroom does come back the foolish virgins were unprepared and while they were trying to get ready he took the wise virgins in and stated to the foolish “depart, I do not know who you are”. Now let’s look to Matthew 7:21-23. It states “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. 22Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”
Pay close attention to the fact that they were calling Jesus lord but denying Him by their lifestyle of lawlessness.
This brings us to the practicing of lawlessness. Let’s look at some lifestyles that will exclude us from the kingdom of God . 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 states “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.” Romans 8:5-8 states that “For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. 6For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. 7Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. 8So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.”
Please awake from your slumber if you are still enjoying the sinful desires of the flesh.
Is salvation available before you make Jesus the lord of your life? Once again I believe our answers are found in the scriptures. In 1 John 2:3-6 it states that ”And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. 4He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him. 6He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.”
Jesus states in Luke 6:46 ”And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” Remember in Romans 10:9 it states ““That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” When you confess Jesus as Lord (laying your life in His hands) you will do what he commands. If this is not a process that has happened in your life, if you still find yourself actively pursuing after the things of the flesh it could be that you have left out one important step. “REPENTANCE”
What exactly is repentance you ask? Let’s look to the scriptures to answer this question. In 2 Corinthians 7:10 it states ”For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.” In Acts 3:19 we read “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.” In Luke 13:3 it states “I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.”
When looking at these scriptures it would appear that repentance is the changing of the mind. This means that you begin to think differently about your sin and turn from it. The things that would once bring you happiness; you come to realize that those things actually were your master. You were a slave to the world and the lust of the flesh. When you truly repent, He will change your desires and give you a new heart. You will begin to see sin the way God sees it. This in no way implies that we will no longer sin; it just means that we will be in pursuit of a holy lifestyle.
Let’s look back to the scriptures to find out about the pursuit of a holy lifestyle. In Matthew 7:21 is states “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.” It would seem that it would be important for us to find out what the will of God is for us if it is a condition of our salvation. In Romans 12:2 it states “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” So for us to even begin to know what the will of God is requires us not to be conformed to this world. In 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5 it states plainly: “3For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: 4That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour; 5Not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God.” You see sanctification is a process that begins once you have been “born again”. This is a work of the Holy Spirit not of us; the requirements on our side are to repent, believe and obey. Romans 6:22 “But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.” Hebrews 12:14 “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.” If you still find yourself loving the things of this world; if you still find yourself making provision for the things of the flesh, it is quite possible that you have not had a true “born again” experience. After you repent, truly repent, the things that you would find pleasure in before; no longer would you find pleasure in them.
I would like to wrap this up with several finishing thoughts.
Without repentance there is no forgiveness of sins.
(Seeing sin the way Jesus sees it)
Without the pursuit of holiness you will not see God.
(Allowing your repentance to drive you away from sin)
Without making Jesus your LORD, there is no salvation.
(Turning to Jesus’ way of living)
If you are concerned that this may sound like a works based gospel let me remind you that it is by God’s grace that we are saved. We could never work enough to produce anything worthy of earning eternal life. Salvation is a free gift of God.
(It will only cost you everything!)
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