Robert Templeton

Robert Templeton

There are many today who hear the truth of Christ and immediately respond like the son who said he would obey and didn't. Unfortunately, their positive response to Jesus alone will not save them. The fruit of their lives most often shows they have never truly repented. But there are some who turn their backs on sin, unbelief and disobedience, and embrace Christ with a faith that obeys. Theirs is a true repentance, manifested by the righteousness it produces. They are truly righteous, and that is the ultimate aim of the gospel according to Jesus. Did you notice what I just said, "According to Jesus."

However, at many churches, sinners today hear not only that Christ will receive them as they are, but also that He will let them stay that way! They are being indirectly taught of a God whom one can enter into negotiations with. Many erroneously believe they can come to Christ, receive absolution and immortality, then walk away to continue living life as they please, even choosing to leave God out and living according to the old nature.

What does this negotiation look like? Smoke shows, musical bands and performances, therapy groups and such are now used to "bring people to Jesus," and multitudes approach Christ on those terms as evidenced by the astounding growth of mega congregations around this world. Hearing a preacher present a message about a God who WILL NOT confront their sin, they respond eagerly. They ignore the severity of their guilt before God and they have no desire to be freed from sin's bondage. Sadly, they have been deceived by a corrupted gospel. Most churches today offer an inadequate explanation of what it means to believe. Churches today teach a faith that eliminates repentance, erases the moral elements of believing, makes obsolete the work of God in the sinner's heart and makes ongoing trust in the Lord optional. Modern "easy believism" has made faith itself a wholly human work, a fragile, temporary attribute that will not endure. It is a negotiation attempt that falls woefully short of the absolute righteousness of God.

Faith obeys. Unbelief rebels. The fruit of one's life reveals whether that person is a believer or an unbeliever. There is no middle ground. Merely knowing and affirming facts apart from obedience to the truth is not believing in the biblical sense. Those who cling to the memory of a "one-time" decision of "faith," but lack any evidence that faith has continued to operate in their lives, had better heed the clear and solemn warning of Scripture: "He who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him" (John 3:36).

So, once again a question is presented. You can choose to ignore the question, but do so at your own peril and those who are depending on you to lead them: How does your church address your sinful nature? Is it addressed as all? Or, are you only encouraged to get involved and be a part of the 'family?" Is the preaching of the complete Word of God enveloped in programs, activities, music presentations and such, or is it made front and center as God intended?

You know the answers to those questions -- at least you should know. Just in case you're having trouble with these "downer" devotionals, you might find this interesting: Jesus warned against Hell more than He spoke of Heaven. I can see why since we are all born as sinners with Hell as the immediate destination ... that is, unless we repent.

Robert Templeton is pastor of Cope Baptist Church.

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