If my leaving any denomination out in the above overview offended anyone, I apologize. Let me first make one thing perfectly clear. The reason so many churches in America are losing their definition as Christian, in my opinion, is they have drifted away from the way the early church, the first century church, was assembled. Many people today are “fed up” with religion as a whole. One church will say one thing, anther will say something else. Each will have its own doctrine and claim that the Bible supports that doctrine.
I want to assure you at this point I don’t plan to single out any particular religious organization or church. What is called a church today is very different from that was a church during the formation of Christianity. The church in general, all denominations, has grown so big that it has become a command center for those who want to get closer to God. This is not what Christianity is about. The church today seems to be made up of people who are trying to get closer to God by any or all of the following which I will address one at a time after I state them:
1 – Attending church every sunday.
2 – Thinking “If I do something good it will cancel the bad. – the one for one syndrome.
3 – Reading the Bible in the morning before going to work.
4 – Praying for things they need every day.
5 – Acting “like a Christian” in their daily endeavors.
6 – Building more church buildings.
7 – Saying, “I’m a good person, one little ‘white lie’ won’t hurt.
8 – Thinking God wouldn’t send someone to Hell, he’s too good a God to do that.
9 – Thinking “MY GOD WOULDN’T DO THAT.”
and last but not least.
10 – Stating Jesus said he would forgive me no matter what. I believe that.
I now will show the difference between the above and real Christianity one at a time.
Many people attend church every Sunday. When church is finished they take their Bible, if they use their own, and put it on a shelf for the rest of the week. They listened attentively to the preacher, pastor, or priest, as he expounded on what God expects in a particular situation, and then they go home and forget what the preacher said. Attending church no more makes one a Christian that attending a garage makes one a car. See my point?
Then we have the person that steals something small, like a white lie, and then goes out and donates to some worthy charity and figures, “The white lie helped me get something good done. The donation to XYZ Charity is a good thing. God will see I had good intentions and forgive the lie because the donation paid for the lie. By that reasoning a person could kill someone and then save three lives from a car wreck and the good countered the bad. Can you at least see where that reasoning is wrong?
Now we come to the “I think I’m a Christian” type of individual, who does two things. I know I said I was going to cover one at a time, but these go together. The person who reads the bible every morning then says a quick prayer asking God for something they need, may be trying to get on the right track. This person usually, after reading his/her Bible, puts it down and says something like, “God please make this day profitable for me.” The he goes off to work and is disappointed when “God didn’t answer the prayer today.” He didn’t have a really good day so he blames God. After all isn’t God in control? The God will do for me type of Christian.
A short note here: God always answers prayer. He doesn’t always give the answer we want but he gives the answer he desires for us, for our own good.
Now we get to the worst offender. The “I act like a Christian all the time” person. The one that says, “I never sin, and I never would.” This particular person doesn’t even know what sin is. He thinks if he shows kindness to others and doesn’t curse, fight, or do things that offend others he’s going to Heaven. By this reasoning if one is politically correct he never offends anyone and is going to Heaven. I will answer this the way Jesus did. First I’ll ask have you ever broken any of the Ten Commandments? ANY? God’s judgement is righteous. In order for it to be righteous it must also be perfect. If his judgement is perfect then he must punish even the smallest sin agains him. I will have to refer at this point to the Bible. Romans 6:23 states that “the wages of sin is death”. You should understand that most of the time sin is mentioned with death the death they’re talking about is eternal separation from God. That can only mean one thing. Hell. Look it up if you don’t believe me. I will show how to reverse this judgement later, but for now let me continue.
A lot of churches just want to make their denominations grow by planting more buildings. I will make this simple. The building is not the Church. The Church is the members, the individuals that attend, and only those who are faithful. It is not a bunch of people that sit in pews on Sunday then go home and do whatever they want the rest of the week. Simple enough?
Now we come to the person who says that being a good person is all that’s needed to get to heaven. Does that mean they don’t have to really believe in God as long as they keep up a good impression? I don’t think that will work. They don’t realize that one of the worst sins is not putting God first. If we do not keep his commandments to the letter, we are not a good person. not one of us. Again I will refer to the Bible for a reason we are not to say, “I’m a good person.” Romans 3:23 states, “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” It says ALL, not some. You and I are included in “all.” Again there is one way to be forgiven for being part of that “all”.
When we say God wouldn’t send someone to Hell we actually make him a lair. He said it himself, those who sin will be in the lake of fire forever (I paraphrase of course). If the lake of fire is not hell would someone tell me what is. I will read the comments.
I saved this one because I think it’s one of the worst offenses to God. When someone says, “My god wouldn’t do that.” That statement by itself is one of the worst offenses against God. When you make that statement you are creating a god to suit your parameters, not listening to what God is saying. This is idolatry. God gives us specific rules. He tells us if we follow those rules we go to Heaven, and if we don’t we’re toast (again paraphrasing)
Now we come to what I consider the most pathetic excuse for believing. It is probably the weakest too. Jesus never said, “I’m going to forgive you no matter what.” What he said was, “I have not come to call the righteous, but the sinner to repent” (Matt 6:13). Repent means to turn away from sin, not to ask for forgiveness then go out and do the same thing again. If we do that we didn’t really repent, and therefore are not forgiven.
Now the kicker: All of the above are ways people react “religiously” to God. They go to church, pray, and figure if they keep doing good things and not offend anyone they’ll go to heaven. If that includes breaking any one of God’s commandments they are wrong… DEAD WRONG.
There is something that helps though. “The free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus.” That’s the second half of Romans 6:23. This is what makes a Christian. God draws a Christian to repentance, then, and only then, is the Christian forgiven. Not by attending church or praying but by turning from sin. A christian is one who was drawn to God not the other way around. You ca’t work your way out of sin by doing something good to counteract it. You only get out of sin by someone paying your penalty for you. It’s been done. Jesus said, “It Is Finished.” That’s what He was talking about. It doesn’t matter what building you go to pray in. Learn from what Jesus did. Learn from what Jesus taught. Don’t try to do what Jesus would do (I know you see WWJD all over the place), but do what he did.
So what did He do. He went out among sinners and told them they were sinning. He showed them what sin was by referring to the Law Of God. Then he told them to repent and be forgiven. His foremost instruction after that was to go and tell others. How do we tell others? Not by shouting and arguing. That’s not what Jesus did. He told other with love. If you love someone enough to tell them they’re sinning you could be God’s instrument for that person’s introduction to faith and repentance.
Finally, don’t just be a denominational Christian, or a wannabe Christian. Get out there. Learn what Jesus said to do. Tell others what He said to do. If you want to be a true Christian go out and tell others with love that they need to turn from sin, and to God.