The sun was coming through the church windows illuminating the pulpit just as the pastor gave the altar call. To John, it looked like It was almost as if God Himself was in control of the lighting and wanted to put the spotlight on what was going to happen. The pastor’s voice was soft as he spoke, “Do you have peace with God? Do you know for sure where you will end if you died today? The Bible says if you believe in Jesus as your Lord and Savior, you can have peace with God. If you dont know for sure that you have peace with God, I invite you to come forward and accept Him into your heart. Come forward, and we will pray the sinner’s prayer with you so you can know for sure you are saved.”
A small group of people started walking out into the isles, making their way forward to the altar. John looked at them as they passed the pew where he was sitting. Some of them were familiar faces, people he had seen around the town others were strangers to him. Being the deacon of the church, he looked forward to greeting them and welcoming them after service to inform them of the discipleship program he was in charge of.
John had just moved to the area from Dallas, Texas, where he had been part of a megachurch. His education as a teacher and his previous experience as a Sunday school teacher in Dallas, Texas, made him the immediate choice when the Pastor, Pete, wanted to start a discipleship program.
This was not a big church, but John saw it as a positive thing. If it got, too big people would quickly feel neglected and ignored. John had always liked the pastor. He was a good man with a good heart for the people, not always theological correct, but John thought it was more important for people to accept Christ than to be theologically correct. So even though it sometimes felt as if grace was being preached almost to the point of being licentiousness, he did not mind as long as his discipleship class grew.
Almost all the people who had accepted Christ that day joined his discipleship program. As the weeks went by, they became regular attendants in church and seemed to mature in their new faith. John could see a change that had happened on the inside of them; they seemed happier and more joyful than before. This was what he lived for, to see the Lord do great work in peoples lives.
John worked part-time as a security guard at a local mall. One day he was driving home from work when a man suddenly stepped in front of his car. The man was bleeding from a gunshot wound to his chest. John slammed on the brakes, and the car came to a screeching halt. He recognized the man; he was a member of his church, one of them who had just joined his discipleship program. As he was about to exit the car to speak to him, to check and see if he was ok, the man suddenly collapsed on the hood of his car with blood coming from a bullet wound. Trembling from shock and fear, John called 911 and asked for an ambulance and police.
It did not take long until police arrived on the scene and the man was taken away dead in the ambulance. The cops told John this man had was shot because he was a well-known drug dealer, and they suspected some of his rivals killed him. This seemed almost inconceivable, how could a man who had just a few weeks ago asked Jesus into his heart continue to deal in drugs?
Early the next morning, Johns’s phone abruptly awoke him out of deep sleep. As his mind was starting to clear up, he recognized the voice on the other end; it was Sam, a long-time member of the church. “John, turn on the news it is….I dont know how to tell you this, John, but turn on the news,” and then Sam hung up. Drowsy from his deep sleep, John stumbled to the tv and switched on the morning news.
The first thing he saw was a picture of his church and his pastor, handcuffed, being led out into a police car. “What has happened!” John thought to himself as he picked up the phone and dialed Sam. “I am looking at it right now, Sam, what has happened?” he asked. There was a long pause on the other end before Sam replied, John could hear the pain in Sams’s voice. “I dont know for sure….the news report says they arrested Pete, our pastor. He is charged with tax fraud”. How could a pastor do such a thing John asked silently as he hung up the phone.
Can you trust a Christian?
Most of you, Christians and atheists, would probably answer no, you can not trust a Christian. Most Christians who give this answer would be quick to label them as backslidden or people who have never really gotten saved. Most atheists who provide this answer would be more honest and give examples of Christians using their “get out of hell free card” as an excuse to do hurtful and even evil things.
The term “Christian” was first used to describe the disciples in Antioch (Acts 11:26) because they imitated Jesus in everything they did. This is what we see in 1. John 2:6, where it says those who claim to be united with Christ, has to live their lives the way He did. And we see this with Paul in 1. Cor 11, where he encourages his readers to imitate Christ the way he imitates Christ.
There is, therefore, a vast difference between being a Christian the way the Bible describes it and the way modern mainstream Christianity describes it. The very idea you become “saved” by asking Jesus into your heart does not exist in the Bible.
So the reason why Christians have hurt so many of you is not that they are backslidden, the truth is they have never really been saved.
How do you become a Christian?
The best to answer this question has to be Yehoshua (Yeshua/Jesus), and He does give us an answer to this in Matt 19:17. If we want to inherit eternal life, we have to keep the Torah (the law of Moses). Does this mean we can “work our way into heaven”?
Even though it is easy to obey the Torah (1.John 3-5, Ex 19:15), we all know two things: 1. The temple is gone, so there is no way for us to sacrifice for our sins anymore. 2. We all know we have broken the Torah in the past intentionally, and we all know we will break it unintentionally in the future. So to be able to obey the Torah, we have to follow its commandments for a sacrifice for unintentional sins.
Because the temple is gone, we have only one option to atone for our unintentional sins, and that option is the cross (John 3:16). So we can not “work our way into heaven” by obedience to the law. If we want atonement for our sins, we have to believe in the sacrifice Yehovah made for us on the cross, and our faith has to show itself in obedience to the Torah. (James 2:10-26)
The only way to atonement goes through faith in the cross, BUT such faith has to show itself in obedience to the Torah, or else our faith is dead and can not save us.
This is why atonement, forgiveness, and salvation can only be achieved by first repenting from disobeying the Torah. When you start obeying it, you will see your need for a Savior and sacrifice for your sins. So from obedience to the Torah comes faith in the cross and true lasting salvation naturally.
How do you become a Christian? By repenting back to the law of Moses.
What would happen if we instead of giving an altar-call where we told people to pray the sinner’s prayer, we instead told them to repent?
We started the sermon today with the story of John, a typical mainstream Christian who gets a wake-up call when he sees people he thought were saved engage in sins most atheists would not even do. If John’s pastor at one time in his life had been told to repent, this would never have happened. That man involved in drugs would still be alive, and John’s pastor would not be in jail.
You would not have rejected God so quickly because you would see the proof of God in the changed lives of those who confess to be Christian. And you who confess to be a Christian would know for sure you are reconciled, forgiven, and truly saved.
So why are we not telling people everywhere to repent?
Because protestants and Catholics have one thing in common, they both love tradition and human-made doctrines more than they love Yehovah.
So what about yourself?
Do you love Yehovah, or do you love tradition?
Tradition and human-made religion can never save you or forgive you for your sins.
Can you be trusted as a Christian?