“John answered and said, A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven.” John 3:27.
“If you don’t go to Church, you’re not saved.” I heard that phrase from a man the other day, and I responded with “Going to Church doesn’t save you. We’re saved because Jesus died on a cross for our sins and that we believe that fact.” I said, “Do you know Jesus as your Lord and Savior?” He answered “Yes I do”. So I said “That’s what God wants from us, to believe in His Son. To know who He is and what He did for us.” By faith through God’s grace we believe and are saved, and the building you call a church hasn’t a thing to do with that salvation.
I heard a story about a women who attended services in a Christian congregation for 40 years, and when she turned 70 she finally came forward during an alter call and gave her life to the Lord. She began attending that Church when she was 30 and for 40 years she heard to message after message, she was probably very active in potluck dinners and such, yet had never asked Jesus into her life. We’re not saved by going to Church. Jesus saves and it can happen anywhere.
We can attend a Christ centered Church and hear God’s word preached every Sunday, but until we make up our mind to say yes to Jesus Christ, going to Church just becomes a routine we follow. I attended a Church for a full year before a man in that congregation asked me some questions that jogged my brain into gear. The man asked me “If you died today, Ron, would you go to Heaven or Hell?” I only needed to ponder that question for a few seconds, as I knew I had not given my life to Christ. I had never admitted to being a sinner and I’d never asked Him to save me from my sins. So I answered “I would probably go to Hell.” I spent a year attending that Church, religiously sitting in the same pew that had become my seat for that year. In all that time I never really heard the message. I never really paid attention, and the question the man asked me that very special day never once came from the pulpit in that church. Church doesn’t save, Jesus saves.
I asked Jesus into my life the very day that man asked me the question that got through to my brain. I opened the door that Jesus was knocking on and He came in. But the amazing thing as I look back on that situation is that it took a year for that question to be presented to me. Why? All the born again believers in that Church just supposed I was listening, but they were wrong. Going to Church for a full year didn’t save me, but Jesus did.
You may hear a great message while sitting in a pew, but even that message won’t save you. It’s what you do with that message that brings about a brain shock, a Holy Spirit induced revelation that convinces the lost that they must make a decision for Christ, and they must make it soon. It can and does happen during a Sunday morning worship service, but make no mistake, only Jesus saves and it’s the Holy Spirit that reaches us for Christ, be it through a message at a local church or through a few words uttered by a friend on a street corner.
“Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners-of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life.” 1 Timothy 1:15-16. The Apostle Paul attended synagogues for years, and he knew the Old Testament scriptures very well, but he was not saved until he met Jesus out on that lonely, dusty Damascus road. No church saved him.
I’ve also heard it said that simply to believe in Jesus Christ is not enough, although we’re told numerous times throughout God’s word that all we must do to be saved is to believe. The verse that is inevitably trotted out to confirm the misguided opinion that believing in and of itself is not enough is in the book of James. “Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.” James 2:19. Its true there’s only one God, and that one God is Jesus the Christ. There is also only one devil which is Satan, but there are many seducing spirits that belong to Satan and they do tremble at even the thought of God.
The fact of the matter is these seducing spirits tremble because they know the truth. This confuses many especially when we are admonished over and over again throughout the New Testament that believing is what is necessary for salvation. The demons believe, but not by faith; they recognized Christ as Lord and as their future Judge. They are seducing spirits acting under Satan to deceive men. They know they are doomed to Hell because they can’t be saved. They know they have no chance of reconciliation with God. That’s why they tremble, they know their ultimate destination and they know time is their enemy.
Salvation only comes through faith in Jesus Christ. “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” Acts 4:12. Many people are convinced that they are saved simply by attending church. In all actuality, without ever asking Jesus Christ into their lives, they are as lost as the seducing spirits that follow Satan. How many have fallen for these words: “If you don’t go to church you’re not saved”? So, they go to church to prove their salvation, but have never accepted Christ. Where are those people spending eternity?
“He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.” John 3:36. Man believes by faith that Jesus is who He says He is and that He died for our sins. We believe the scriptures; more simply stated we trust God. We have placed our faith in the fact that Jesus is the only way we can be saved. We hear the message of the cross (that message can come while sitting in a boat in the middle of a raging river, or standing on a street corner, or sitting in church) and by hearing that message we are then convicted in our spirit to believe. “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” Romans 10:17.
What was the response by the keeper of the prison where Paul and Silas were locked up once he realized none of his prisoners had escaped? He fell down before Paul and Silas and asked “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” Acts 16:30. To which came the response. “…Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved…” Acts 16:31. To believe means we trust Him. “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:” John 1:12.
Going to the right church, being baptized, doing good works of any kind, these are things we might do after we are born again, but they are not prerequisites for being saved. There are an untold amount of burdens being dumped on people by the uninformed or by those who have an agenda apart from God’s agenda. Thus there are doctrines made up by men which confuse and even bind those who wish only to follow Jesus Christ unabashedly.
Many people go to church for the wrong reasons, and most are seeking something but they don’t understand what. If a person is truly seeking God He’ll reveal Himself to them. In other words God isn’t hiding inside a big white building waiting to be discovered. Many folks, when they hit rock bottom and there is no place else to turn, finally end up asking God for help. All of a sudden it seems they need God’s help, but what they hadn’t realized previously is that God has been there all along helping them, blessing them. If only they could realize that simple fact, perhaps they wouldn’t need to hit rock bottom before finally turning to God.
Fellowshipping together with our brothers and sisters in Christ in a Christ centered Bible believing Church can be an awesome experience, one that we may never wish to depart from, but that isn’t what saves us. Jesus Christ saves, and only Jesus is worthy of that designation.
No my friends, you and I don’t need to walk through the doors of some huge Christian cathedral, or a small backwoods humble Christian Church to ask the God of the universe into our lives. I have said it before, the early Church met in their homes and there God added to the numbers of His Church daily. Personally, I asked Christ into my life on a street corner outside a local restaurant in the little town of Gold Beach, Oregon. There, for the first time in my life, I spoke to God and acknowledged who He is, and interestingly there wasn’t a church building in sight.
God is wherever you confront Him. The most important question we should all be asking ourselves is “Have we asked Jesus Christ into our lives, to be the propitiation for our sins?” Not which church to attend and what to wear, or will I be accepted.
Where do you stand in regards to the God of all creation? If you’re waiting for some great revelation at your local church it may never happen. If no one has asked, then let me be the first. If you died today would you go to Heaven or Hell? Think about it.
God bless you all,