Originally published June 27, 2017
A lot of people don’t want to be in a church because?
Because the church is full of?
Churches are filled with hypocrites.
I argue that churches aren’t so much full of hypocrites but churches are full of people who aren’t really Christians.
And the hypocrisy people complain about, certainly not always, but the wickedness that too often happens in churches comes from people who are not really walking with Jesus. Just saying you’re a Christian doesn’t make it so. The gospel necessarily results in a transformed life. You don’t have Jesus come into your life without being impacted by that.
In Matthew 7, Jesus said: “Not everyone who says to me “Lord, Lord’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 7:21).
There are people who are calling upon the Lord who will not be with him in heaven. Not because Jesus lacks grace, but because there are people who are insincere and disingenuous about their faith. And while that might fool relatives and the people here at church, that will not fool an all knowing God.
That person won’t enter heaven but Jesus says the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven (Matthew 7:21). Jesus isn’t saying that we earn God. That we earn our way into heaven. The person who legitimately is saved and walking with Christ will have a life that is transformed by the gospel. How we act will be different.
And we live in a nation where insincere faith is rampant. Over 75% of Americans still identify as Christians. But less than a quarter believe that the Bible is the word of God, according to a Gallup poll from earlier this spring. A greater percentage of Americans look at the Bible as manmade fables than the word of God.
If the Bible isn’t trustworthy, neither if Jesus. Because the Bible points to Christ. The Bible is all about Jesus, it tells us about him. The love he has for us. The death he died for us because of our sin. If that is not all trustworthy then the gospel isn’t trustworthy.
75 percent of Americans say they’re Christian but only 65 percent believe in the resurrection. Millions of Americans who say they’re Christian who don’t believe in the resurrection. If there’s no resurrection, there’s no reason to be a Christian!
Jesus says of these people who just put up a religious facade: On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name? (Matthew 7:22)
“We were ushers Lord! We were in the worship team and ran sound. We volunteered to help out. We always took communion.”
None of that matters if you didn’t have faith in Jesus Christ. And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness (Matthew 7:23)
Jesus will say “I never knew you.” It’s not that a person had faith and lost it. It’s not that a person had faith and didn’t do a good enough job keeping up with it. It’s that a person never had faith in the first place.
It’s not just about saying “well I don’t want to go to hell. Sure I’m a Christian.” It’s having an actual faith that Jesus is the way. That Jesus is your savior. It’s not about believing that you’re basically the key to your own salvation but Jesus is some formality. He’s the key!
It’s that there is no other way apart from Christ and falling at his feet in thankfulness for his mercy.
And because we do that, God transforms us. The power of the gospel works in a believer.
But people don’t want to do that. People want to do their own thing. But there is no doing your own thing when you’re following Jesus. It’s about giving your life to Jesus. And if that sounds too intense or doesn’t sound like something that you want, then the gospel might not matter in your life.
For a person who is walking in faith, let us thank God for the work of regeneration that he has done in your life. But for the person who knows in your heart of hearts that you don’t really believe. Stop trusting yourself and your own obedience for your salvation.
Have you placed faith in Jesus?
You don’t have to be a master of theology. You don’t have to figure it all out. You don’t have to have all of the answers before coming to Jesus. It’s about trusting in him. You can come to Jesus this moment. And trust in him. To say, “Lord, not my will but your will be done.”
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Josh Benner is the associate pastor at Cornerstone Evangelical Free Church in Fergus Falls, Minnesota and has a Master of Divinity from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He enjoys writing about faith and culture. He lives with his wife Kari in Minnesota.