Studying the Bible is comparable to studying music. We can mentally learn how to play the piano, but until we actually begin to work the keys with our fingers and apply the knowledge that’s in our head, it’s just education that’s stuck in our brain and will fade away after time. But when we apply what we’ve learned it comes alive in us and the music begins to flow through our heart.
And so, just as we need to apply works to what we’ve learned about music, so it is with faith: we either use it or we lose it!
It’s not enough to say, “I am a Christian” and then expect that we really are a Christian while we continue to live in the world without any change. In order for us to become a Christian, we need to study the Bible and apply our faith to all that we’ve learned so that our character becomes the same as the character of Christ.
But before we can even consider the thought of being a Christian, we need to know why we want to become one in the first place. Is it to find a godly formula to get rich? Is it to have a social club to attend on Sunday’s? Or is it to be forgiven for breaking the laws of God so that we won’t go to hell when we die because of these sins? Is it possible that the main reason for being a Christian is to be forgiven for our sins and to be assured that we have a home in Heaven so we can be with Jesus when we die?
Contrary to the fallacy that many Christians believe, nice people don’t get into Heaven just because they’re nice. There is only one way to get into Heaven and that is through the cross. Jesus tells us in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”
And in Matthew 8:22 Jesus says that many people will face God after death and be shocked when they’re not accepted into Heaven, but instead, will be cast down into hell.
Unfortunately, many people believe that John 3:16 means that everyone will automatically be saved because it says that Jesus died for the whole world, and so if you believe that then that’s all there is to salvation. Well, He did die for the whole world, but not everyone who acknowledges that or who calls them self a Christian is saved. Even the devil acknowledges that – and he is not saved.
“Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.” … James 2:19
Salvation means more than just saying, “I’m a Christian”, but this is what the devil wants us to believe. True salvation comes only with repentance and a heart that wants to change from its sinful nature to the righteousness of God through the blood of Jesus.
We need to come to Jesus with an honest heart, ask Him to take away our sins and fill us with His Spirit so we can belong to His family – and then we need to study the Bible so that we can be like Him.
Here is a simple analogy that will help to understand the issue of repentance.
Let’s take two families: the Right family and the Wrong family. Little Jake of the Wrong family realizes that his family is filled with evil thoughts, bad actions and attitudes and that they will all eventually be cast into an eternally dark, evil future that he fears. He sees the Right family where the members are filled with love and hope and who have a beautiful home in Heaven waiting for them. He wants to be like them, so he responds to their invitation and moves in with them.
He acknowledges the mandate of the family; he talks about it as if it applies to him and he refers to himself as a family member, but he doesn’t change or commit himself to the head of the family. He’s still filled with his old ideals, mannerisms and values; he still bears the family name of “Wrong” and he still will end up in eternal darkness with them in the end. He never became a member of the Right family and will never receive the Right family inheritance when he dies, but sadly he’s been deceived into thinking it will be so. The only way that little Jake can become a member of the Right family is to give up membership to the Wrong family, walk away from them, become adopted into the Right family and take on their characteristics, inspirations, hopes and purpose. Then he’d no longer be little Jake Wrong, but little Jake Right, and he would be blessed by them while he lived and he’d be part of the Right family inheritance when he died.
When we become a Christian we come out of the world when we repent of our sins and we take on our Godly membership when we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior and commit ourselves to Him. We study our Bible to learn who Jesus is and who we are in Him, and we realize that the glue that holds us all together is our love for God.
“Jesus said unto him, ‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.’” … Matthew 22:37
The world says that to be saved we just have to accept that Jesus died on the cross for our sins so matter what we do now as Christians we’re okay, and then we just have to love each other. While these are two elements of being a Christian, these are not the only prerequisites for salvation. To be saved – to be a Christian – we must realize that we have broken God’s laws if we’ve committed even just one sin – and so we deserve the punishment of hell for those sins. But when we come to Jesus and ask Him to forgive us, He takes those sins away and we are saved from the wrath that God will give out to everyone who IS found with sin on them. We have become righteous through Jesus, and we become committed to Him and will never go back into those sins again – John 8:11.
And like the piano player, we never stop practicing! We do everything we do in faith to please God. His Word – the Bible – becomes our benchmark and we take on the attitude that, “If God said it then I believe it”, and we follow the teaching of Jesus and we reverence God our Father. The world becomes a place to live in until we get to Heaven, but it’s no longer our benchmark and we are no longer a member of its system.
“But without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.” … Hebrews 11:6
As our faith grows we are able to trust God with our lives and our faith becomes our shield against the attacks of the world. We use our faith and we get the victory through our trials. But when we call ourselves Christians and don’t come out of the world and don’t live or practice faith, then we are living a lie. Don’t be deceived: salvation means repentance of sins, commitment to God and gratitude for the life that He’s given us. We need to put our trust in God and our faith to work because if we don’t use it, we will lose it.
“The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” … Psalm 27:1
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