Religious, But Lost

Written by M. Larson

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My friend Mary had been a very religious person all her life. She had been baptized when she was 12 and had abstained from smoking, drinking, and other things she considered worldly. But when she was 47 years old, she suddenly realized that she had never trusted in Christ for her salvation! So she humbled herself before God and others and gave her heart to Christ. Shortly thereafter her son, who was studying for the ministry, called to tell her that he too had just been saved!

Some well-known Bible teachers have suggested that perhaps 50 percent of evangelical church members are not truly Christians. That includes self-righteous persons like Mary, and it includes many who are living lives of deception.

Many who profess to be Christians may be deceived as Mary was. Others may be like a middle-aged woman I met while visiting and ministering to hospital patients. As I was about to hand her a tract to read, I felt compelled to ask her if she were saved, if she knew Jesus as her Savior. She grabbed my hand in desperation.

“No, I’m not really saved!” she cried. “For most of my life I’ve served in my church and everybody thinks I’m a Christian. But I’ve always been afraid to respond to invitations to receive Christ because of what people might think!”

That evening the woman prayed with me to receive Jesus, and when I left she was rejoicing in the assurance of her salvation.

How to be sure of your salvation.

Here are some questions we can ask ourselves: Have I ever felt convicted of my lost condition before God? Have I ever repented of my sins? Have I ever responded to the conviction of the Holy Spirit by truly receiving Jesus Christ as my personal Savior and Lord? Has my life been transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit, as Second Corinthians 5:17 says?

We cannot save ourselves. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For by grace are you saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God–not of works, lest any man should boast.” Romans 10:9. 10, 13 says, “If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (NIV).

Peter declared that God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance–and that “all” includes you and me and everyone. If you have doubts as to your salvation, and if you realize that it was for our sins Jesus Christ died on the cross, why not cry to God right now–“Lord, be merciful to me, a sinner, and save me for Jesus’ sake!” In a moment you can be a new person in Christ, clothed in His righteousness!

Questions:
If Christ should ask you why He should allow you into His heaven, what would be your reply? How can a person know for certain that he/she will go to be with Christ when they die?

About the Author Muriel Larson

2 Responses to “Religious, But Lost”

  • Marilyn says:

    This is so important, and it saddens me to ponder how many will find themselves at heaven’s gates, only to be shut out by their prideful presumption of salvation by their religious affiliations, their good works, and their sliding-scale righteousness! I, too, was among those, who faithfully went to church throughout my growing up years and early married life, was an active member of our congregation, singing hymns and receiving communion, having my children baptized and living what I thought was a morally/ethically responsible life. If asked, I would surely declare that I was a Christian. Yet, I did not enjoy intimacy with God, or a burning desire to know Him more. Praying to Him was limited to times of need, rarely did He hear from me just to praise Him, or thank Him for His wondrous love. And yet, though He could have, and perhaps should have, passed by my soul, damning me to the eternal death that I deserved, He showed great mercy and offered me a place at the banquet table of His Son! So great a gift leaves one awestruck and filled with overflowing gratitude! And this is what being ‘born again’ is all about — one starts out afresh with a new spirit and hunger for a deeper relationship with his/her Creator. This ‘new creation’ (2 Corinthians 5:17) is guided and prompted by the indwelling Holy Spirit, Who authenticates one’s salvation by a gradual sanctifying process (becoming more like Jesus.) Those closest to a new believer should be able to witness the fruit of the Spirit (“love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control” Galations 5:22) developing over time. If a person claims to be ‘saved,’ but remains unchanged and lives by the flesh, then his/her salvation experience may be only imagined. This is worthy of reflection, for we are exhorted in 2 Peter 1:10 to “be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure.” As our eternal destiny hinges on our salvation experience being authentic, there is no greater pursuit of knowledge than the assurance of one’s own salvation!

    Precious, merciful Lord, we praise You for Your love, and for Your patience with us as You wait upon our hardened hearts to become cracked by the stresses of life! Thank You, Lord, that You wait with cupped hands to catch the pieces of our broken spirits, and take them in to Your Holy Spirit workshop, where You design a ‘new creation!’ Illuminate our hearts, Lord, and show us the truth about our spiritual conditions! Open our eyes and hearts to see any deceit that may be obscuring an authentic, saving relationship with You! Soften our hearts, Lord, that we may be pliable in Your hands, teachable at Your feet, and faithful to Your calling for us! May our lives be a testimony to Your redeeming work and we will give You all the glory! In the matchless name of Jesus, Amen!

  • Doris Beck Deebee says:

    What a good reminder that not all those that are religious have that personal relationship with Jesus. I call it moving our faith 18 inches, from our head to our hearts, from a head knowledge to a personal faith.

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