Do you remember when you accepted Christ as your Savior? I do. I was a little girl and had just heard a message about Hell. Literally, I would've accepted anything I had to accept to avoid going to that scary place.
Years later, as a young teen, I began to gain an understanding of what it really meant to be saved and what Jesus had done for me when He died on the cross. During this time, my salvation experience began to change.....to deepen.
I was fortunate to have church leaders who really loved the Lord and lived their love out daily in front of me. I admired them and wanted my life to mirror their lives. So, even at an early age, I was taught "works" go hand in hand with Salvation. In fact, one of my youth mentors wore out the cliche': "If you are going to talk the talk, you better be walking the walk."
"Hereby perceive we the love of God, because He has laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethern. But whoso hath this world's good, and sees his brother has need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? ......let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and truth." 1 John 3:16-18
The church is not perfect. It is the best model we have to spread the Truth, God's Word, but it is flawed with human weaknesses. Example: A multi-million dollar church building does not necessarily equal a Holy, God-Fearing place of worship anymore than a $250,000.00 a year pastoral salary equals a perfect pastor. God doesn't measure the building OR the annual income.....scripture says He measures the heart of the believers. Period. For whatever reason, society measures success of a person by what he/she has. Sadly, the church is currently being measured the same way, which explains why tithes are going to build buildings instead of building the Kingdom.
The above issue shows a weakness in the church body, but I wouldn't classify it as a "heaven deal-breaker". However, there has been a long standing teaching in the church as a whole that I believe could prove to be a deal-breaker. How many times have you been told you only need to say a prayer to accept Christ as your Savior and you are saved? I have heard it hundreds of times, but it cannot be substantiated by Scripture. If we sat down and read the Bible cover to cover, we would never close the Bible with a big: "Whew, all I have to do is say a prayer and I'll be saved." Truthfully, quite the opposite would happen.
This is an issue of WHO we are accepting. When we accept Jesus as Savior, we must equally accept Him as Lord. It is imperative that we put our old self to death and take up a new life....becoming completely submissive to our heavenly Father. In other words, we must seek obedience. To do this, we have to get into His Word and find out what pleases Him.....discover how He has instructed (and expects) us to live.
In reading A.W. Tozer (one of my favorite authors), I found the following in the book: "A Treasury Of A.W. Tozer" and believe it to be profound:
"Mankind appears to have a positive genius for twisting truth until it ceases to be truth and becomes downright falsehood......This fact was brought forcibly to mind recently by hearing again the discredited doctrine of a divided Christ.....It goes like this: Christ is both Savior and Lord. A sinner may be saved by accepting Him as Savior without yielding to Him as Lord. The practical outworking of this doctrine is that the evangelist presents and the seeker accepts a divided Christ.......
It is altogether doubtful any man can be saved who comes to Christ for His help but with no intention to obey Him. Christ's Saviorhood is forever united to His Lordship. Look at the Scriptures: "If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved....for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon Him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." (Romans 10:9-13) There the LORD is the object of faith for salvation. And when the Philippian jailer asked the way to be saved, Paul replied, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved" (Acts 16:31). He did not tell him to believe on the Savior with the thought that he could later take up the matter of His Lordship and settle it at his own convenience. To Paul there could be no division of offices. Christ must be Lord or He will not be Savior."
The church, in spreading the Good News of Salvation, has done so with the right heart......with an admirable and earnest desire to reach the lost. However, I fear, the result may be many "Christians" living with a false sense of security, believing the prayer they said in Vacation Bible School when they were in elementary school saved them. Now adults, they live like the heathen, thinking they are going to be ushered into heaven when they breathe their last breath because of a simple prayer they spoke.
Just something to think about. I want to be a doer of the Word and not a hearer only, don't you?