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One Answer

By Michael Lane, Executive Director, Delve Christian Ministries
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"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'" -Matthew 7:21-23

"Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me." Mark 8:34

Then Jesus said to them, "Don't you understand this parable? How then will you understand any parable? The farmer sows the word. Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them. Others, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once receive it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful. Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop - thirty, sixty or even a hundred times what was sown." Mark 4:13-20


We are often reminded that our life on this earth is short, and no one knows the time or day when our journey on earth will end. Every time we lose a loved one or hear on the news that a tragic accident has claimed the life of a child, it's natural to wonder where they've gone and what has become of them.

Scripture tells us that there is a heaven and it is a paradise beyond our imagination. Scripture also tells us that not everyone will gain admittance. I imagine that Jesus will, either literally or metaphorically, ask each of us why we should be allowed to enter that paradise and spend eternity there with Him.

What kind of response could we offer which would allow us to obtain this wonderful and eternal gift? We certainly can't hope to impress Jesus with our wealth or power. It won't be enough to say that we were loving parents or faithful in our marriage. Not one of us can offer as evidence a sinless life in perfect obedience to the law.

There is only one answer which will suffice. As Paul explains so clearly in Ephesians 2:8, there is nothing we could ever do to earn our salvation. Our hope rests in Christ alone when we place our faith in Him. If we are to provide an acceptable answer, then we must be able to face our Lord and confidently declare, "Jesus, you know me, and I know you. By faith, I have placed my hope of salvation in you alone."

In that answer, the most important word is "faith". It's also the most misunderstood. A common misconception is that faith is little more than a passive choice we make. Many Christians believe that if they make the deliberate, intellectual decision that Jesus is Lord then they have, through the making of that choice, demonstrated real faith.

There is so much more to faith than this! The kind of the faith which is necessary to understand the depth and truth of what Jesus is offering is one which is vibrant, active and alive. It must be evident in the life of the believer and demonstrated continually through obedience, love and service. This is precisely what James is teaching in verse 2:26 when he writes, "Just as the body is dead without breath, so also faith is dead without good works" (NLT). Faith is much more than a choice. It changes the way we think and act, affects the course our our lives and is evident in everything we do.

Make no mistake - James is not at odds with Paul, nor is he trying to say that we can in any way earn our salvation. James is simply echoing the words of Christ Himself who proclaimed that, "only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven will enter the Kingdom." Works are not the means by which we earn our salvation, rather, doing the will of the Father is the natural expression of the living faith which allowed us to accept the gift of salvation in the first place.

There is a growing belief in modern Christianity that if we ask Jesus to save us, no matter what we really feel or believe, then we automatically gain admittance to Heaven. It's a get-out-of-Hell-free card, with no conditions or strings attached. This is a terrible oversimplification of the idea of grace, and does not place the necessary emphasis on the need for a deep and abiding faith. Asking Jesus to save you is a very powerful prayer - one which can completely change your eternal life - but unless you use that as a foundation upon which to build a life-long relationship with Him, then they are just empty words. We are not saved by words, nor can we accept the gift of salvation by casually asking for it on a whim absent a true understanding of who we are in relation to Jesus Christ. We only receive salvation when we believe with our heart and proclaim with our mouth that Christ is Lord and that He alone can save us. That is the kind of faith which Paul is talking about, and that kind of faith, James teaches, naturally produces fruit which is evident for all to see. The evidence is a life dedicated to serving and loving Christ with all our hearts.

If that faith is no longer evident in our lives after we have asked Jesus to save us, then we may be in danger of having, in retrospect, never truly believed at all. We can never lose our salvation, yet neither can we possess a gift we've never accepted.

If we want to honestly tell Jesus that we know Him and that we accept His free gift of salvation by faith, then that faith must be evident in real terms on a daily basis. It is not enough to say a few simple words, admitting our sin and asking Him to save us. It is not enough to pray whenever we need something or to enter a church whenever it's convenient.

To truly say that we are faithful followers of Christ, we must spend time with Jesus in prayer and learn all we can about Him by reading God's Word. We must deny ourselves, take up His cross and serve Him. We must confide in Jesus, trust Him and surrender everything to Him. We must obey His commandments and those of the Father who sent Him. We must boldly and fearlessly proclaim that Jesus is our Lord.

These are the fruits of a genuine, living faith in Jesus Christ.

 

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Comments


Thanks for the devo. I know for me I have to express my faith more by loving others. However, I am confused by your comment that we can never lose our salvation. Does this mean once saved always saved? When I read the Bible it tells me in Hebrews 6:7-8 that I can lose it and also if I blaspheme the Holy Spirit (Mark 3:29) I can lose it. Teaching this out of context confuses other believers who grew up with this doctrine that a half-hearted devotion is all it takes. Please do not get me wrong. I am not a Bible basher or hair splitter but part of expressing your faith is speaking the truth. It might be best to say that God is always ready to grant us salvation but it is up to us to accept it. In Christ, Jas
9/14/2009 7:52:49 AM - jas_cartwright, Member of Delve into Jesus since 9/14/2009


Jas_Cartwright,

Whether or not one can lose their salvation is a deep and complex topic. There has been an ongoing discussion which you might find interesting. You can find it here:

Salvation...Is It Possible To Lose This?
9/17/2009 4:59:39 AM - Michael Lane


Salvation is obtained not by works alone but our depth and true believe and faith in Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We must be able to walk the walk and talk the talk genuinely and be christlike in nature (reflect Christ) in whatever we do and say. We are answerable/accountable to God and 'not really' man because earth as we know it is only our temporary home and heaven is our permanent home. The road to Hell is wide as compared to the narrow road to heaven.
10/30/2009 4:46:06 PM - SteadySheila, Member of Delve into Jesus since 10/27/2009



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