We have a very serious problem in the church today, particularly in America. It is an issue that I am specifically burdened with, having been so close to it.
The problem is the confusion over salvation. There is a great disillusionment happening within churches, where goats are being told they are sheep. They’re given sheep’s clothing and reprimanded when they act like goats. They have been told a lie so deceptive, you can barely tell the difference between it and the truth. Say this prayer, this sinner’s prayer, and you’ll be saved. I even heard a story from a street evangelist who said the sinner’s prayer with a man, who then turned right around and began to belittle the evangelists for his belief in God. But he had just accepted Christ! Didn’t he understand that Christ was God’s son? Hadn’t he just repeated the sinner’s prayer?
You see friends, the problem isn’t the prayer, the problem is the way it’s sold. Often times pastors will have people repeat this prayer, and then announce those who believed what they had said were saved. Wow, so I saved myself with my own prayer and the power of my own belief! I’ll just pat myself on my back and be on my way to hell, none the wiser. These people, goats as we’ll call them, do one of two things. 1) They continue to go to church and try as hard as they can to behave like the sheep (Like I did, for an entire decade before I finally heard the true Gospel which you can read about here) or 2) they leave the church, go back to their sinful life as goats, believing that one day they’ll go to heaven because they said a prayer.
It’s even more sinister than that, however, because this disillusionment has created millions of goats seeking a shepherd.
They do not know Christ, so they do not hear his voice. This is why they can comfortably listen to false teachers blaspheme, and preach every type of heresy imaginable. This is why when the antichrist comes, they will happily worship him, they want to worship a christ of their own invention.
So, you see, it is more important than ever to have an answer for what we believe. What is salvation truly? We have some examples in the Bible.
Today’s testimony is an ancient one, a story of salvation that has a markedly different tone than most of the other testimonies in the NT. Saul, a persecutor of the brethren and fulfillment of Christ’s prophecy that the day would come when those who killed believers would do so under the impression that what they did they did for God. It continues even to this day, millions of Christians all over the globe are persecuted and even martyred, by those who are doing the work of their god. Sauls testimony serves as another reminder, that no one is too far gone for salvation.
Sauls salvation is dramatic, as he is heading from town to town to persecute, arrest, and even kill believers, a voice stops him.
He is blinded, and the goes where the voice told him to go. He fasts and prays for three days before a believer comes to him. They pray, his eyesight is healed, he is baptized, then eats and is strengthened. Acts chapter 9 tells us he immediately began to go into the synagogues and preach Christ as Messiah. He changes his name from Saul to Paul (which translates into small) then spends the rest of his life teaching and preaching Christ crucified, a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to the gentiles. He is beaten, imprisoned, and shipwrecked several times. During his life, he writes a large portion of the NT and is eventually beheaded for his faith.
What do we learn about salvation from the story of Paul? We learn that once the conversion has happened we no longer desire the sinful lusts we desired before. When the Holy Spirit entered Saul, he immediately ceased his murderous rampage. What else happens when we become saved? We cannot help but seek out the brethren, our desire is no longer for worldly amusement. We now love our brothers and sisters in Christ and seek out fellowship with them. What else do we see in this story? We see that we grow in grace and the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. We become a new creature, the old man passes away. No longer do we return to the vomit of sin.
It’s not going to happen overnight, and some grow faster than others. As Jesus himself said, some bear different amounts of fruit. However, it will happen, if you have been saved from eternal damnation you will grow. Even when you do sin, and you will fall short, you hate that you’ve sinned. As Paul himself said, what he desires to do he does not, what he hates that he does. It’s a race, friends, run it well. Do not accept the delusion that you can save yourself by saying, and believing a prayer. We are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.