Does Salvation Make a Difference?
By David Cloud
THE UNCHANGED PROFESSER
Sir, we're from the Main Street Baptist Church and would like to inquire about your relationship with the Lord. Are you saved and on your way to heaven?__________________________________
"Saved? Sure, I'm saved."
On what are you basing your hope of salvation?
"Some time back someone talked with me about Jesus, and I prayed the sinner's prayer and the fellow showed me some verses and told me I was on my way to Heaven."
Great! We're happy to hear that. Do you walk with the Lord now?
"Well, not really. I guess I don't live like I should. But that is between me and God. I'm doing the best I can and as good as a lot of people I know. You don't know how hard it is for me to live for God."
Do you go to church and fellowship regularly with God's people?
"Well, no, but I do watch religious programs on T.V. sometimes. A person doesn't have to go to church to be right with God, anyway."
Surely, though, you must read your Bible now that you are saved.
"I don't read the Bible too much. I have a hard time understanding the Bible. My eyes aren't too good, either, and the Bible doesn't make a lot of sense to me."
Sir, we don't want to be rude, but are you sure you are saved and on your way to Heaven?
"Listen, my relationship with God is my business. The Bible says something about not judging, doesn't it? I believe in Jesus and the Bible as much as you do and that man that dealt with me said I am saved and on my way to heaven, and I'd just as soon not talk about it anymore."
"For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. ... But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire" (2 Peter 2:20-22).
"He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him" (1 John 2:4).
"They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate" (Titus 1:16).
With great numbers of people claiming to be saved who have not experienced spiritual change, it has become difficult for men to know what salvation really is. Does salvation in Christ Jesus mean anything? Does it make a difference?
There are a great many people in America and other parts of the world who claim to trust in Christ, but show no love for God, for His book, His people, or His ways.
Oftentimes these have the idea that their mental assent toward the fact that Christ died for their sins is their ticket to Heaven. They agree that Heaven would be a good place to go when they die, and they say they believe that Jesus died for their sins so they can go there someday. Beyond this, they have little or no present interest in spiritual matters.
The empty professer seems bored or upset when the evangelist tries to talk with him about the Bible. He might not even turn his attention away from the television program he was watching before the Christian knocked on his door. The professer's attitude, though possibly friendly, broadcasts the fact that he will be relieved when the soul winner leaves.
The children and family, fellow workers, and neighbors of this kind of "believer" get the idea that salvation must not mean anything. It appears that salvation is just some sort of prayer that guarantees one a ticket to Heaven but has little or nothing to do with daily life right now. What a wrong impression this is!
Where is repentance in all this? Where is the fleeing of the wrath to come to find refuge in Christ (Heb. 6:18)? Where is turning to God from idols (1 Thess. 1:9)? Where is becoming a new creature (2 Cor. 5:17)?
No wonder folk are laughing at Christianity in places where empty professions prevail. Oftentimes, that which is posing as salvation in Christ is, indeed, a laugh.
It is no wonder, too, that the heretical cults are having such success.
Repentance, too often, is not being preached. Salvation is not shown an inside-out, Holy Spirit-wrought transformation. Folk are content with a "faith" that has not brought zeal for the things of God. The false cults come along and point out that the Bible speaks much about right living. Of course, they are right about this, but dead wrong about works having any place in a man's justification before God.
The stage, then, is set for cults to teach their lies that faith and works are the two oars by which a man pulls his ship to heaven's safe harbor. Since an imbalanced doctrine of faith divorced from repentance is commonly believed, the soil is fertile for the cults to cultivate their heresies, emphasizing works above--or together with--faith.
Thus we see the urgency of holding forth true Bible salvation, which is repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 20:21). Both aspects are necessary, according to the Scriptures.
How urgent is the need to preach the full Bible message of salvation--that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name among every nation (Lk. 24:47). Both aspects are essential parts of the gospel. This, and not Pentecostal tongues and divine healing, is the full gospel!
Men need to see a plain difference between the saved and the lost. They need to hear and see that salvation means something; it makes a difference. The cross of the Lord Jesus Christ was meant to be God's tool for redeeming men from iniquity that He might "purify unto himself a peculiar people"--peculiar in what sense? Peculiar in that they are "zealous of good works" (Titus 2:14). The cross is to make a difference.
This study is sent forth to help mark out this line of difference, to help separate the true from the false.
ARE THEY SAVED?
Many good folk today seem to think that the doctrine of security in Christ promises security to anyone who merely makes a profession of faith or prays a prayer. If a person claims to have called upon the Lord for salvation, we are not to doubt him. Even though a professer cares nothing for the things of God, the Bible, church, or Christian fellowship, even though he lives like an unbeliever and is a continual reproach to the name of the Christ that he professes, we are not to discount his profession.
Consider the common practice of saying that a certain number people were saved at a revival crusade or at some other special meeting. One evangelist recently wrote that more than 800 people were saved through his ministry last year. What does he mean? He means that more than 800 people made professions of faith or 800 people prayed a prayer. A better indication of those who were truly saved would be the number of those that were baptized and an much better indication would be how many were baptized, joined a sound church, and continued on to serve the Lord. The book of Acts reports that 3,000 were saved on the day of Pentecost, but it also says that "they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers" (Acts 2:42).
Years ago, my wife and I were assigned to follow up on the ladies soul winning visitation program in a certain church. This program was patterned after a popular plan that focuses on "getting decisions" and involves clever ways of manipulating people into repeating a sinner's prayer. It was not uncommon for the ladies to return from these visitations and to report that several "souls were saved." The problem is that these "saved souls" commonly had no interest whatsoever in obeying the Lord.
Far too often we use the term "saved" when "professed Christ" would be more appropriate. Let's not confuse profession with possession. Most fundamentalist preachers I know do make a clear distinction between these two things in their preaching and teaching, but all too often we fall into the practice of confusing the terms when talking about soul winning results. Is it because we are so eager for numbers to report?
The practice of "giving security" to those who have prayed a sinner's prayer is another problem. The personal worker says to the one who has prayed the sinner's prayer, "According to God's promises in Romans 10:13, where would you go if you died today?" The new professer is supposed to say, "I would go to heaven." But this is a fearful thing. Who are we to give someone security? We should tell people that Christ has promised eternal salvation to those who truly repent and trust Him, but who are we to know for certain if one has repented and trusted Christ? Let's encourage people that there IS security, but let's not rush in to try to give them that security. That is the Holy Spirit's job.
The Bible offers no hope for unchanged professers, and neither should we. While plainly teaching that the true believer in Christ has eternal life, the Scriptures offer no such security for a mere profession. There are many motives for coming to church and for professing salvation other than a sincere relationship with Christ.
I AM NOT TALKING ABOUT ADDING WORKS TO GRACE
Let me emphasize that I am NOT talking about adding works to grace for salvation. The gospel is that Jesus Christ died for my sins and was buried and rose from the dead according to the Scriptures, and I am saved by trusting in His finished work. Salvation is a gift of God's grace. The gospel message is "Look and Live." My Christian growth does not save me, and it does not help save me. It is the product of my salvation.
I do not want someone to think I am adding anything to the Bible message of Grace. I am not. What I am saying is that the Bible emphasizes repentance for salvation and a change that flows from salvation. And we must not fail to emphasize that which God emphasizes.
I AM NOT TALKING ABOUT CHRISTIAN PERFECTION
Let me also say that I not talking about any kind of Christian perfection. I realize that some Christians grow more quickly than others. Some are more fruitful than others. It IS possible for a truly born again Christian to be carnal and worldly and careless. BUT even a carnal Christian will give evidence of his salvation. There will be changes in his life. As Christ taught us, some bring forth thirtyfold, some sixtyfold, and some an hundredfold. What I am emphasizing is that all who are truly saved will bring forth something.
The following five Bible truths should cause us to be burdened for folk who profess to be saved but whose lives do not show an evidence of salvation.
SALVATION DEMANDS REPENTANCE
"And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men everywhere to repent." Acts 17:30The evangelists in the New Testament did not seek mere professions; they looked for repentance, convinced faith, lives changed for the glory of God. Their goal was to make disciples of all nations in obedience to their Lord's Commission, to proclaim without compromise or apology the message of repentance toward God and faith toward the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 20:21).
John the Baptist demanded repentance from those who wanted to be baptized:
"Then said he to the multitude that came forth to be baptized of him, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance ... And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: every tree therefore which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire" (Luke 3:7-9).The Lord Jesus Christ demanded repentance from all that would be saved:
"I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall likewise perish" (Luke 13:3).Paul and the other apostles preached and demanded repentance from both Jews and Gentiles alike:
"I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance" (Luke 5:32).
"When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life" (Acts 11:18).Repentance means a change of mind that results in a change of life. It is illustrated by the Corinthian believers who changed their minds about the proud and wicked indifference they had in regard to the gross sin in their midst. A church member had been living in fornication with his stepmother. Instead of mourning this wickedness and the tainting of the testimony of the church. the Corinthians were "puffed up" (1 Cor. 5). The apostle Paul, upon learning of the situation, rebuked them and demanded they put the sinning person away from the fellowship. In response to the apostle's letter, the believers at Corinth humbled themselves and corrected the problem. In Paul's second epistle to these brethren, he made the evaluation that they had "repented."
"And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent" (Acts 17:30).
"Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ" (Acts 20:21).
"But shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance" (Acts 26:20).
"The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance" (2 Pet. 3:9).
"For though I made you sorry with a letter, I do not repent, though I did repent: for I perceive that the same epistle hath made you sorry, though it were but for a season. Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing. For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death. For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter" (2 Cor. 7:8-11).There are several lessons about repentance from this example. One, repentance means a radical change of mind. The Corinthians had completely changed their minds about the sin in their assembly. Two, repentance is observable. The apostle saw the repentance in their changed action and attitude. Three, repentance is a product of the Word of God. The apostle's letter was God's Word and it was this Word that caused the Corinthians to repent. If we want to help men and women come to repentance, we must use the Word of God; nothing else is powerful enough to change a sinner's mind.
We also learn that repentance has a place in the believer's life even after initial conversion. There is a never-again-repeated new birth that is the result of repentance. This is not repeated, for through it one is born into the family of God. Even after the new birth, though, there remains the need for the believer to continue to repent about specific things in his life on a daily basis in order to grow in grace.
The Bible teaches that no one can be saved without repentance--a changed mind about God, life, sin, Jesus Christ, etc. And this changed mind will always result in a changed action as the repentant sinner turns to God for salvation, and God gives him new life in Christ.
The evangelist's goal, according to Christ's Great Commission, is to make disciples of all nations. "Repentance and remission of sins" is to be preached in the name of Jesus Christ (Lk. 24:46-47). The soul winner's goal is to preach the gospel in such a way that men see their sin and need of salvation and are brought to repentance and faith. It is to the repentant believing sinner that God gives salvation.
The sinner does not have to change his life in order to be saved. God does the saving and the life changing. A changed mind is required, though. The individual that has never changed his mind about God, sin, Christ, and the Bible, has never been saved. The changed life is the evidence and fruit of repentance. Repentance is not a sinner changing his life; it is a sinner yielding to God, surrendering to God, so that God can change his life.
SALVATION REQUIRES A NEW BIRTH
"Jesus answered and said unto him Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God" (Jn. 3:3).Regeneration is God's work. A man cannot work up the new birth, nor can he work for it. He cannot even work to keep it. God gives the new birth as a gift of grace. But He only gives it to those who repent and place full confidence in the Lord Jesus Christ.
"Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are made new" (2 Cor. 5:17).
"But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature" (Gal. 6:14,15).
This shows why many make professions but never seem to be born again. They have not repented, and they have never, therefore, been regenerated. They are still lost. The new birth is God giving a person a new nature; how could this new nature fail to produce a new life? Could God live within an individual's heart without being evidenced in that person's daily life? The Bible teaches that this is not possible.
WHAT CHANGES DOES SALVATION BRING?
What changes can we expect the new birth to make in a person's life? Following are some changes emphasized in the Bible.
A NEW RELATIONSHIP WITH AND ATTITUDE TOWARD GOD
"And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou has sent" (John 17:3).The regenerated person has become a child of God. God is his Savior. The Spirit of God has taken up permanent abode in his heart. He desires to know God and seeks to do so. Where does this leave the professer that cares nothing about knowing and pleasing God?
A LOVE FOR GOD'S WORD
"He that is of God heareth God's words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God" (John 8:47).The individual that is born again hungers after the Scriptures. The Bible is God's voice, and the regenerated man loves God's voice. It is God's law, and the regenerated man has God's law written upon his heart. A person's attitude toward the Bible is a strong indication of his spiritual condition.
A LOVE FOR GOD'S PEOPLE
"We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren" (1 John 3:14).A new attitude toward God's people is a mark of a born again person. He that does not love to be with the brethren is not passed from death unto life. Everything about the brethren will not be loved. The fellowship will not be without problems and frictions. Backsliding can temporarily hinder one's fellowship with the saints. The young or carnal brethren do not love with the maturity of the older brethren. Feelings can be hurt and temporary schisms can result, but the fact remains that saved people DO love saved people and desire to be with them.
A LOVE FOR GOD'S WAYS
"He that doeth good is of God: but he that doeth evil hath not seen God" (2 John 11).The individual that does not love righteousness is either lost or severely backslidden. The person who is backslidden is one who at one time evidenced salvation. If one has never evidenced salvation, he is not a backslider; he has never possessed anything from which he could have backslidden!
The new birth, then, is the implanting of God's nature into the soul of a true believer. It is God dwelling within. And this new nature can be observed from without. If God dwells within, a person's life will be changed. The person who shows forth no change in his attitude toward God, God's Word, God's people, and God's ways has no Bible basis whatsoever for claiming to be saved and on the way to heaven.
SALVATION IS EVIDENCED BY PERSEVERANCE
"My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me" (John 10:27). "For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end" (Heb. 3:14).True faith keeps on keeping on; it perseveres. The Savior keeps His own. The saved man might stumble and halt and grow weak at times, but his faith will continue. The person who wholly and finally turns his back to the Lord Jesus is one who has never had true faith to begin with. He has perhaps dabbled in the things of Christ; he might have tasted of God's table, but he has never actually drunk of salvation.
The verses quoted above do not teach that believers keep themselves saved by continuing in the things of the Lord; they simply show, in this way, that they have been saved. They keep on because God works in them. For instance, Hebrews 3:14 does not say we SHALL BE made partakers of Christ if we hold fast the profession of faith. It says we ARE made partakers. The holding fast is the evidence of salvation already securely possessed.
No one has authority from Scripture to say that someone is saved who does not continue in the things of Christ. This does not mean the believer cannot enjoy a know-so position in Christ. He is eternally safe in Christ the very day of his conversion. The Bible says so. This does not make him slothful; it inspires him with love and devotion to His Savior.
SAVING FAITH WORKS
"Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone... But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?" (James 2:17, 20).A faith that does not work is a dead faith. The individual who professes to be saved, but who is not interested in Christ and the things of God, has a strange kind of "faith." It certainly is not saving faith.
Such a person claims to believe that God hates and judges sin as the gospel teaches, yet he does not tremble about his own sinful ways. The unchanged professer claims to believe that Jesus suffered a painful, bloody death to set him free from sin, yet he continues in the very things that required Christ's death. He claims to believe that the resurrected Christ gives victory over sin, yet he says he simply cannot give up his sin. He claims to believe that Life is in Jesus alone, but he spends no effort to seek and know Christ in daily life; rather, he continually feeds from the cesspools of the world. He claims to believe that God's wrath is revealed against the ways of this world, yet he refuses to leave his worldly pleasures and companions. He claims to believe that the Bible is God's Holy Word, the only Book in the world that has eternal value, yet his mind is filled with anything and everything but the Bible.
The unchanged professer claims to believe that Christ built and loves the church, and that the Bible instructs every believer to be in the assembly, yet he contends that God is pleased when he watches a religious program on Sunday morning instead of attending church, or when he attends church only very sporadically.
Does such a person really have faith? No; he whose faith is not evidenced by a changed life and a love for the things of God has no true saving faith. The person who professes to have faith in Christ but who continues to walk far from God's ways is not someone who has lost his salvation; he is of that sad number that have never possessed salvation.
THE UNCHANGED PROFESSER IS IN WORSE SHAPE THAN THE PERSON WHO HAS NEVER KNOWN THE TRUTH
"For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire" (2 Pet. 2:20-22).How different Peter's admonition is to that of many Christian workers today. Not only did he hold out no hope for the unchanged professer, he said it would be better if such a person never heard the truth at all.
This does not mean Peter did not believe in the security of the believer. In 1 Peter 1:2-5 he teaches that believers are elect according to the foreknowledge of God, sprinkled with the blood of Jesus Christ, born again to a living hope of resurrection, possessors of a sure inheritance which has been reserved in heaven for them. That is a secure position! He goes on to say that these believers are kept by the power of God. There is no uncertainty here that the believer might not make it to Heaven.
Yet the apostle offers no such security to someone that does not give evidence of Bible salvation. He offers no security to the person that turns back to the pollution of the world, since that person shows that he has never been born again.
Paul reminds us that the unchanged professer is like the pig which, when washed, returns to the pig pen. The pig returns to the mire because his outward washing has not changed his pig nature. The unchanged professer returns to, or never leaves, his sinful life, because his nature has not been changed by the new birth.
If the Scriptures considered under the previous five points are to be taken at face value, they demand that no unchanged professer be given a glimmer of hope for salvation; that is, of course, if the professer has had sufficient time to evidence a change. It is sometimes difficult to judge these things from a human perspective, particularly in the new or backslidden Christian, but the Bible does teach there will be a change. Salvation always makes a difference.
HOW GREAT WILL THE CHANGE BE?
It is possible for a true believer not to show a great change. 2 Peter chapter 1 indicates the possibility of a true believer failing to progress properly in spiritual growth and thereby even forgetting that he was saved. According to the Scriptures previously studied, though, even if this is the case there will be some clear evidence of salvation. There will be a change.
Take Lot, for example. He made some very foolish decisions in his life. He loved the world and chose the pleasures and rewards of the world above the will of God. As a consequence, he lost his entire family to the world. He lost his testimony and the power of his witness. He wasted his life on vanity. Even so, we know from New Testament references that Lot was a saved man. 2 Peter 2:7-8 calls Lot "just" and says he had a righteous soul that was vexed with the wicked deeds of Sodom.
It is clear that Lot DID show forth evidence of salvation. He had a different attitude toward the true God than his lost, idolatrous neighbors in Sodom. He had a love for God's messengers, as evidenced by his reception of the angels. He had some fear of God's Word, as seen in His attitude toward the angels' warning. Lot did not live like he should have, but he did give some evidence his salvation in many obvious ways. He was far from being an unchanged professer.
The soul winner will encounter some people like Lot. There is some reason to believe they are saved, yet they are plainly far from God's will. How should these be dealt with? Should the soul winner say, "Praise the Lord you are saved," and leave it at that? What is God's message to the person who is saved but living in sin and worldliness?
The following brief study of the woes of the wayward Christian should help.
WOES OF THE WAYWARD CHRISTIAN
BROKEN FELLOWSHIP WITH GOD
The blessings of the Christian life are unlimited, but one of these is more valuable than all others combined, and that is fellowship with God in Christ. The saved man can walk and talk with God every moment of every day. The blood of Jesus Christ has forever removed the great chasm between his soul and God that once existed because of his sin. By faith in Christ's blood, the believer enters into the very presence of the great and wonderful God.
The Christian might be nothing in the eyes of society, but he can walk with the Lord of Glory. He might be condemned, even hated, by men, but he is the apple of God's eye, and can bask in God's affection. The Christian might not be able to gain the hearing of even one of this world's nobility, but he can converse at will with the King of kings. The Christian might have to endure sickness, ridicule, poverty, and many other sore trials, but the man that walks with God learns there is in that communion a joy, a peace, a sweetness, a wisdom, and a strength that makes all trials lose their ultimate bitterness. The Christian might be lonely for human companionship; his friends might even forsake him; but he knows he has a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.
What a treasure is fellowship with God! And this treasure is through Jesus Christ. The precious Lord Jesus, the Lord of glory, the Delight of men, the Prize of prizes, is the Christian's portion. He belongs to the Christian, and the Christian belongs to Him. The Christian is a part of His very body, of his flesh, and of his bones (Eph. 5:30); this is how intimate is the relationship between God and the believer.
Though all of this is possessed in Christ; it is enjoyed on a daily basis in this life only as the Christian chooses to make Christ his portion. The believer must choose to walk in the light, to follow hard after God's will, to confess his sins, or he will fail to enjoy the fellowship with God for which he was redeemed.
By not walking in fellowship with God, the Christian loses the above mentioned joys and much more. Broken fellowship with God is seen in a weak, hindered prayer life, lack of spiritual guidance, lack of power over sin and Satan, lack of spiritual understanding and desire, etc. What a loss this is!
The most precious blessing in life is communion with God in Christ. This most blessed portion of the child of God is lost to the believer who lives in indifference or unconfessed sin and worldliness.
GOD'S CHASTENING HAND
The Lord will not stand idly by while His children live in sin. He takes active steps to bring them into His perfect will. He rebukes through the Scriptures (2 Tim. 2:25; 3:16). He allows Satan to bring misery (1 Tim. 1:20). He chastens through sickness and the everyday circumstances of life (Psa. 38:1-8). In some cases, He even chastens through death (1 Cor. 11:30). God deals with sinning saints, and we do well to recognize God's hand in our lives and respond with confession and obedience.
"I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye. Be ye not as the horse, or as the mule, which have no understanding: whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle, lest they come near unto thee" (Psa. 32:8,9).LOSS OF IRREPLACEABLE OPPORTUNITIES FOR SERVICE AND FRUIT
A life lived outside of God's will is a great loss! Precious hours that could have been used for God's service are wasted on vanity. Precious talents that could have been developed and dedicated to God are squandered. Lives that could have been changed for God remain unchanged. Blessings, rewards, and joys that could have been are forever sacrificed on the altar of sin and worldliness. Perhaps the most awful part of lost opportunities is this: they can never be regained. They are lost forever. Only in this life can we enter the service of Christ and preach the gospel to the lost. Only in this life can we stand for God and Truth in an evil and antagonistic world. Only in this life can we choose to resist sin for the glory of Jesus Christ.
A DAY OF ACCOUNTING AT CHRIST'S JUDGMENT SEAT
What will the judgment seat of Christ involve for the careless Christian? It will mean loss of reward and blessing that could have been obtained to the glory of God (1 Cor. 3:11-15). It will mean loss of treasure (1 Tim. 6:17-19). It will mean shame and disgrace (1 Jn. 2:28). It will mean agony because of the dishonor that was brought to the Lord Jesus because of a carnal life.
What a terrible thing it will be to ignore God's perfect will and then to stand at the judgment seat of Christ, in the presence of saints and angels, and suffer the disgrace of being judged for having lived in rebellion or indifference against the will of God and thus having promoted the cause of Satan in one's earthly life.
Either way, therefore, lost or saved, careless professers should not be left to relax in their waywardness. The personal worker must sound a trumpet warning against spiritual carelessness.
Those that do not have an evidence of a changed life are most likely lost and bound for eternal damnation. If they are saved but spiritually pygmied, they will suffer the woes of the wayward Christian.
Soul winners must be armed with God's wisdom for discerning where a person stands--lost or carnal--and be ready to give a Bible challenge to the problem.
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