Thursday morning, my quiet time led me to the book of Galatians. It was a very familiar passage but something began to churn in my mind when I read chapter 1, verses 8-9:
Galatians 1:8-9 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.
Paul repeats himself in verse nine and I don't believe it's because he forgot what he said in verse 8! Under direct leadership of the Holy Spirit of God, he penned a warning that if anybody (whether man or angel) preached another gospel than what he had already preached, let him be accursed. That word 'accursed' means "doomed to destruction". One preacher I heard said that it literally meant to be damned to hell.
That may seem harsh but there is a frightening trend going on in our churches today. One that is paving a nice smooth road straight to the lake of fire for many souls. That trend is what we call "easy believe-ism". It is being preached from pulpits all across America and I can only assume, across the world. It is the mentality that you should come as you are and leave as you were because God loves you anyway. It is a neat little package of just repeat this prayer after me and you'll have your ticket to heaven. Unfortunately, nothing could be farther from the truth.
What exactly is the Gospel? I mean, we are commanded to preach it to every creature so what is it? What is it that Paul said he had preached and that the church of Galatia was instructed to not give ear to any other? The answer is in 1 Cor. 15:1-4. Very simply put, it is the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
So, many will say that is evidence that all one needs to do is simply "accept - believe - confess" that Jesus died and was buried and rose again. Yet, that isn't quite it, because the Bible says that even the devils believe and tremble (James 2:19). I don't know about you, but I don't often see a sinner trembling at the very thought of a holy and just God! My husband has often said that if salvation were as simple as getting someone to repeat a prayer, he'd go around with a loaded .38 and put it to people's heads and demand they repeat it. Now, how foolish would that be! Yet, many think nothing of sitting in church week after week where their pastor essentially does the same thing. "Just repeat this prayer and you're in!"
So, what is salvation? Jesus Christ made salvation so simple that even a child can believe. He even tells us that our faith should be like unto a child. Salvation isn't in works or water or anything else but faith in the Savior and His finished work at Calvary. However, salvation is also personal. It is between the sinner and the Savior. I challenge anyone to find me a "prayer" for salvation in the Bible. Each account of conversion is different, just as yours will be different from mine. There are some things that should be the same though.
First, in true salvation, there will always be conviction. Conviction is that drawing of Jesus Christ, that wooing of the Holy Spirit of God. It is the awareness of the wretched state of sin and the impossibility of salvation without forgiveness from a holy and righteous God.
John 6:37, 44 All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. v44 No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.
Secondly, true salvation will always bring conversion. By definition, conversion is a turning or change from one state to another; a change of heart. With conversion, a sinner is brought to repentance, to take sides with God against himself. Godly sorrow will lead to genuine repentance and salvation.
2 Corinthians 7:10 For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.
And the final mark of true salvation is change. Yesterday, a Facebook friend posted this in her status: "Wondering what it is about the world and unrighteous living that is so alluring to those who are supposed to be bought and paid for by the Savior." My immediate thought was that most of the time it is because they have not truly been bought by the precious blood of Jesus. How many walk around today with the label of "Christian" and are nothing of the sort. We make excuses for them like, "they're just back-slidden" or "they've just never grown", when in truth, they've never been changed.
2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he IS a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
It is true that we have periods in life where we aren't as close to the Lord as we should be but the Bible promises us that if we are children of the Most High, he will chasten us. If someone can live in perpetual sin and they are not chastened, they do not belong to the Lord. Our pastor is famous for saying that the Lord doesn't chastise the devil's children!
You may be wondering why I am sharing this here - on a KJV blog site that is read almost solely by professing born-again believers. I'll tell you why. I grew up in a Christian home, and I attended 12 years of Christian school. I made a profession of faith at 5 and then another at 9 (and several more throughout my childhood years). I was baptized. I married a preacher. I went to Bible college. Want to know when I got saved? When I was 27 years old and my husband was already in the ministry! Why? Because I grew up in an area where all I ever heard preached was a "repeat after me" prayer (i.e. the Sinner's Prayer). I do not remember hearing about conviction, repentance, the drawing of the Holy Spirit of God until the Lord in His mercy moved us to Florida and put us in a church where it was preached. I could have easily died and gone to hell from my church pew, clinging to a stupid prayer. You are welcome to read my testimony. I do not want that for somebody else. I don't want to hold the truth in my hands and not share it!
So, the answer to the question, it is simply that I think those of us that know the truth...that salvation isn't in a prayer but in a relationship with the Savior...need to wake up and start speaking the truth in love to those who would call themselves believers but bear no fruit and whose testimonies do not line up with the precious Word of God. It is time to stand for the truth of the Gospel and not water it down to fit what society wants to hear. Jesus is the same today as He was back then and his mercy is still there for the taking. If we would simply be patient and let the Lord work in hearts, instead of having another number to add to our church rolls, the Lord would surely bless and we would see true converts for His kingdom! There is value in one sinner that repents! Praise the Lord!
Luke 15:10 Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.
© Adorning Grace 2010