And he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.” Acts 16:30-31 NKJV
As I have watched what many conservative commentators have described as the downfall of our country as a result of rampant liberalism, the thought occurred to me that we could also make the case that the Church itself is on much the same path. Although the movement away from teaching about the need for repentance of sin and being born again as Jesus taught has been going on for some time, it is only lately with the appearance of churches which teach a “social gospel”, and the emergent church movement which has attracted so many, has this difference become so apparent.
Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, 2 Thessalonians 2:3 NASB
The Greek word “apostasia” literally means to fall away, or defect from something previously believed to be true. When speaking to the Thessalonians’ about the rapture of the Church, Paul makes it clear that many will fall away and defect from the truth of the gospel before the Church is taken away. Since so many who choose to study the prophecies of the end of the Church Age believe we have arrived at that point in time, and the rapture could occur at any moment, should we as believers be surprised at the state of the Church in light of the apostasy Paul warned us about?
Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” John 3:3 NKJV
But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: John 1:12 NKJV
Although I could accurately be called a child of the Evangelical, non-demoninational movement, like many children I spent a few of my college years closely examining my faith in light of many other religions and taking the proverbial “comparative religions” course offered by most institutions of higher learning. What I emerged as was a believer totally committed to the only faith which made any sense at all, the Gospel taught by Jesus Christ, the Son of God. As opposed to the new “seeker friendly” churches which seek to attract followers by avoiding words such as sin, repent, believe, and born again, Jesus taught clearly the need to be born again by receiving Himself as the Son of God, and believing in the sacrifice for our sin by His death on the cross.
In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory. Ephesians 1:13-14 NKJV
What you will find in many of these emerging churches is the avoidance of teaching the Gospel as Jesus taught, and replacing it with what has been termed the social gospel, which is simply the focus and emphasis on works done in the name of Jesus. These churches choose to describe their members as “followers” of Jesus, and place a great emphasis on “doing” rather than “believing”. These churches are filled with programs and service opportunities which satisfy the desire of their members to be busy for God, yet ignore the teaching by Jesus that belief comes before works.
Then they said to Him, “What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?” Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.” John 6:28-29 NKJV
If you look closely at the Church today, and the majority of those which could be described as subscribing to the emergent church model, is it any wonder that the last church of this age revealed to us in the book of Revelation as the Laodician church is also one in which Jesus appears standing on the outside knocking to come in? The sad fact is that as a result of not teaching the Gospel of Jesus as He taught it, with the emphasis on being born again as a result of believing in His sacrifice for our sin, these churches have many Christ followers, but very few believers.
“Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ Matthew 7:22-23 NKJV
Doing good works in Jesus’ name is what we are called to do, but Jesus made it clear that choosing to believe in Him comes first, and the works come as a result of our belief. The Word of God is clear that it is not enough just to follow, you must believe. The title I gave this article today is in the form of a question, and it is one in which I pray you can answer in the affirmative. Do you believe? Have you personally prayed to God and asked for forgiveness of your sins by the power of the death and resurrection of His Son Jesus Christ? If so, you are born again as Jesus taught, and someone who can proudly say “I am a believer”.
“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. John 14:12 NKJV
And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name. John 20:30-31 NKJV
that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. Romans 10:9-10 NKJV
And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God. 1 John 5:11-13 NKJV
“All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out. “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. “This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day. “And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.” John 6:37-40 NKJV