Monday, April 11, 2011

Christianity is not a belief. It's a way of life

Many will say to Me on that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name and driven out demons in Your name and done many mighty works in Your name? And then I will say to them openly, I never knew you; depart from Me, you who act wickedly, disregarding My commands.  Jesus, Matthew 7:21

I know I've posted about this before but this topic keeps bugging me. Most of us who grew up in the Christian church were told that all you had to do to "be saved" or "go to heaven" was believe in Jesus, say some prayer and receive Him into your heart. I find the believing part in the Bible, but honestly I can't find the special prayer or the part about receiving Him into your heart.  What I do find are lots of admonitions that go far beyond a simple belief.

You believe that God is one; you do well. So do the demons believe and shudder in terror!. James 2:19

It's one thing to say you believe something or have a head knowledge of something. And quite another to truly believe something in your heart. A head knowledge is transient. It can be swayed and changed and lessened over time. A heart knowledge is a reality to the person who has it. It is a knowing that goes beyond knowledge. A truth that cannot change. This, I believe, is the type of saving faith Jesus spoke about. But it is even more than that. It is a knowing that results in action. It is a knowing that transforms into a relationship with God that then produces a change in the person that then manifests itself in outward works. What are these works? They are simply doing the will of God.

And this is how we may discern that we are coming to know Him: if we keep  His teachings, His commandments.  Whoever says, I know Him and am acquainted with Him, but fails to keep and obey His commandments is a liar, and the Truth  is not in him.  1 John 2:3-4

What saddens me is that on judgment day there will be many people who professed to know Christ who never knew Him at all. In shock and horror, they will be sent away to an eternity in hell simply because they didn't take the time to find out the truth for themselves.  Instead, they relied on what some pastor said or some church doctrine told them.   I personally have friends who have loved ones who are living sinful lives of drinking and immorality, etc.. but because that person "accepted Jesus as their savior" when they were ten at some church service, my friends don't fear for their salvation. There are hundreds, thousands of people who go to church whose lives aren't any different from the world around them, but who think they're safe. These are the people my heart breaks for. Someone needs to warn them.

Enter through the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and spacious and broad is the way that leads away to destruction, and many are those who are entering through it.  Jesus. Matthew 7:13

Please don't misunderstand me. I'm not trying to frighten anyone.  85% of the people in America claim to be Christians. I'm very concerned about their salvation. And about a watered-down gospel that's been presented to people for years. It's time we, as the church, as the body of Christ, wake up. Let's get back to the gospel. Let's talk about what Christianity really is. That its about a relationship. It's about commitment and sacrifice and a life laid down. It's about God living in us and affecting the world for good. So, first check yourself and your own heart. Then, don't be afraid to speak the truth in love to those around you.


  1. Monday, April 10th,
    "Morning, MaryLu."
    Okay ... this message back to you is "ONLY" a test ... I've tried writing "twice now" - in the "Comments" section, re this blog today ... and both times ... it cancelled my entry, and said there was an error ... so I'm "testing with this one" ....
    Brenda Hurley

  2. Monday, April 10th,
    "Morning, MaryLu" .... oh sure, now the silly 'test' entry works (above) !!! Go figure !!!
    Anyway -- Excellent message today, and greatly needed to be spoken !
    Our own Pastor has shared - "Why is the Church 'blending in' with the World", and, "Why is the World 'blending in' with the Church today ?" In other words ... it's becoming difficult to tell the difference between us all !
    We absolutely "need" to be living a life, set apart -- unto Holiness and righteousness ... to share with the World ... the true Gospel, a hope in eternity, and genuine love and forgiveness.
    Even on "Jack Van Impe Presents" ... Jack is often sharing that many believe they are safe and sound, on their way to Heaven, and are a Christian ... just because they said some 'magical prayer'. Not so !
    And one day, the Only Living and True God ... will judge each one of us, and discern our hearts and minds to "know" who is the genuine Christian, and, who is not.
    "Oh Lord, let it begin with me ... mould my heart in to what You would have it be, so that others will see Jesus living within me; and, that I may have a Holy-boldness to speak the truth of Your Gospel, in love ... to a sick, dying and lost World." Amen and Amen !
    Take care, and, God Bless,
    In Him, Brenda Hurley

  3. Greetings, Brenda. Thanks for your comment and your faithfulness to read my blog. I believe God is calling the Western church out of our complacency and into living fully in the Spirit. That's the only way we will attract a dying world.
    Have a wonderful week!!

  4. Good post, MaryLu. This is the reason I do not refer to myself as a Christian. I say that I am a born-again Christian. I have told my children and students on more than one occasion that no one knows someone's heart, except for the Lord. We can say that we are saved, but only God knows whether it is true or not. God knows our hearts and He alone knows if we truly believe in Him and love Him. You can fool yourself and others, but you can't fool God.
    I was never taught that all you had to do is recite a prayer and receive Him into my heart. I was taught that you must believe with all your heart and soul that Christ died and rose again once for all for our sins. That once you 'truly' believe (again, you can't fool God) then the Holy Spirit will 'take up residence' in your heart and soul and start 'cleaning house'. (that is how my pastor described it in a sermon one day)In other words, your life on the outside will 'visibly' change for the better towards a Christlike life. Others will see the change in you and 'learn my your example'.
    I see no harm in citing a 'prayer' if you are (truly saved). It can be a very comforting process for some. And I do believe that we receive Jesus into our hearts through the Holy Spirit.(From John 14).......
    15 “If you love me, keep my commands. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.
    Again, none of this matters if you have not 'truly' given yourselves to God. I cannot stress it enough, that no matter how you live your life, if you do not 'truly' believe in what Christ did for our sins and live your lives for Him, you will be turned away. (Matt. 7:21)
    I think that the closer it gets to Christ's return, the harder it will be for people to come to Christ, because of all the confusion.
    Let's all be in constant prayer and communication with God for our loved ones and those we do not know.

  5. Very timely message! The first verse you shared is one that is continually on my heart, because I have many friends and family members who I fear fall into this catagory...they seem to think (like most of America, it seems), that you are a "Christian" if you go to church on Easter and Christmas and own a Bible (even if it's never read). I've tried to share what the Bible says about such a mindset with some of them, but it hasn't really worked so far. But I know I have to keep trying and praying for them!

    My pastor always stresses that in Romans 10:9 ("That if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and beleive in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved."), confessing Him as Lord doesn't mean simply giving Him some fancy title - it means actually making Him Lord - Ruler - of your life, actually putting Him in charge.

    @Debbie - I couldn't help but smile when I read that you don't refer to yourself as a Christian - I do the same thing! I always say something to the effect of "Christ follower" or "Disciple of Jesus." :-) It's horrible that the definition of "Christian" has been so distorted.

  6. I can't think of much more to say other than how much I agree and Amen. I wish that would happen and the church would wake up and preach the gospel. The opposite is happening. More and more churches are watering it down. I heard about a book written by an "evangelical" claiming there is no hell. I saw another book available for free on Kindle advertising what is the least you can believe and still be a Christian (hint - evidently all faiths are welcome, homosexuality is okay, the Bible doesn't have to be taken literally... and so on).

    I was shocked. To have a pastor say the things in the free book is bad enough, but to have a pastor who claimed to be an evangelical say there was no such thing as hell... the ramifications of that kind of statement are unimaginable. We can't just accept what people tell us.

  7. Debbie, it sounds like you have been blessed to go to a great church! There are so few here in California. And where I grew up in Florida we went to a church that preached the prayer rather than the relationship. I didn't mean to disparage the prayer. It isn't it that's the problem. I completely agree that it is only the Holy Spirit that can save us and fill us with the love and grace of God. Truly we live in perilous times, but Jesus warned us of the wolves among the sheep.
    Sapphire, I too have friends who believe the same thing. I suppose that's why I feel so passionate about this topic. Believing isn't enough. James says even the demons believe and tremble. It's making Jesus Lord. That's what counts.

    Lee, yes it is shocking. I've heard that over 50% of so called Christians in this country don't believe in Hell. They choose what verses they want to believe in and create their own form of Christianity. So sad. And as churches become more politically correct, more of them will avoid mentioning Jesus at all. After all He's the divisive figure in all religions. Funny how Satan made it like that.
    Anyway, we need to pray for those who are deceived. Thanks, ladies, for your comments!

  8. Tues April 12th,
    "Evening, MaryLu".
    Just wanted to clarify something I said (in the beginning message above on your blog) ....
    I totally believe in one saying - a sinners' prayer, truly repenting of their sins, asking Jesus to come in to their life/heart, and starting to walk a new walk.
    All I was meaning was ... that "if" there is "no evidence" of -- repentance, a changed life, a new walk, etc ... then one little prayer is not going to 'magically save' that person. That - 'new way of life', that 'relationship with the Lord', 'the 'visibility of change' ... "needs" to be active and present. "If" ... it's all - talk from the mouth ... and there is no evidence of conviction, committment, and a life laid down ... (basically -- "all gab, and no jab") ... then a prayer to become saved ... will hold no power at all. It would render - meaningless and empty.
    Now ... did that clarify ... or have I totally messed it up with more confusion ??? Probably 'should have' left, well-enough alone !
    Hope all is well.
    Take care, and, Gob Bless,
    In Him, Brenda Hurley

  9. Oh no, Brenda. No worries. I understood exactly what you meant. And we are in complete agreement!! I simply didn't want anyone to think I didn't believe a salvation prayer did any good. It does great good, if it's uttered from a truly repentant heart open to God. Just like you said.
    Have a great evening!

  10. In Europe, they don't teach that you have to say a prayer in order to become a Christian. My grandparents immigrated from Europe, and they said they never had to do the whole prayer thing. In Europe, all you have do is believe that Jesus Christ is the son of God, and that He saved us from our sins. Thats it. Thats how you become a believer. Of course you pray as you mature in your faith, but it wasn't required to become a Christian. Interesting, isn't it?

  11. Very interesting, Eszter. I never thought of the prayer being just a cultural thing. I do worry about just having to believe because James tells us that even the demons believe and tremble. What it boils down to is a matter of the heart and a relationship. I just don't want people to be deceived into thinking they're going to heaven when they are not. I suppose it's those people I'm trying to reach with my writing most of all.