Friday, May 17, 2013

Unsaved Believers

I don't think he is alive... there is no evidence.
What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? ~James 2:14

Pastor’s message entitled “Unsaved Believers” from last Sunday, presents a tragic and frightening reality. The idea that someone can believe Jesus is the Christ and yet remain unregenerate and unsaved speaks to the power and deceptiveness of our corrupted hearts. I know Christians who believe this cannot be. They refuse to accept the notion of someone who proclaims belief but not in a saving way. Jesus would even go a step further and declare there are those who say they believe and even do Christian things and are yet outside the family of God. I give you the scariest passage in the Bible…

“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. 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?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ ” ~Matthew 7:21-23

Most of us have seen dead animals alongside the road and most would agree those flattened clumps of fur sitting there day after day in all kids of weather exhibit no signs of life. They do not move, or run; they do not eat or breath, they are there and do not do anything. Why then would we fail to see someone who says they have saving faith without the works produced by that kind of faith as spiritually dead? If the Holy Spirit of God is dwelling inside someone and their heart has been regenerated, there will be evidence of new life! Not perfection as Pastor noted, but a new direction. Pastor pointed out three characteristics of someone with this kind of useless faith; the unsaved believer has: 

  • A hollow profession 
  • Empty compassion 
  • Shallow conviction 

 If God has regenerated a human heart and called them to salvation, He creates in them a desire to forsake sin and serve Christ and follow Him. There is a desire and longing for righteousness and obedience to the Word of God. Question... If a man who has sold his own people out to a conquering army, oppresses them by imposing and collecting heavy taxes for that army while skimming off the top to support his godless lifestyle meets Jesus and is saved, does his saving faith produce works? Is there any outward evidence of an inward change?

And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.” And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” ~Luke 19:8-10

So what is the take away for us from this message? How should we weave this thread of truth into the fabric of our lives this week? It can begin with something as simple as just examining our involvement and interaction with the rest of the church, and by that I mean the folks here at Lakeside Fellowship. If there is a lack of good works in our lives, is the only answer to just start doing more? Actually the answer is turn to Jesus first, looking to Him and the work He alone accomplished and meditate on what that means for your own life. Notice what Paul explains to Titus...

Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. ~Titus 3:1-3

Paul calls on Titus to remind the people of the good works which should be evident in their lives as Born Again believers. But, now note what the grounds and basis for doing those good works is, note what leads to and causes those good works to be done...

But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people. Titus 3:4-8

Paul tells Titus to insist on the truths of the Gospel (verses 4-7) so that Christians would devote themselves to doing good works (verse 8). Knowing and understanding the Gospel leads to and causes good works. Which is why Paul told the Roman Christians he wanted to preach the Gospel to believers (Romans 1:15). I am looking forward to Pastor’s sermon this coming Sunday and he rounds out these thoughts about good works and their relation to my own faith, after all that is what God created and saved us for...

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. ~Ephesians 2:8-10

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