One day I was talking to a young man who was somewhat of a prodigal. I said to him, "Do you believe in Jesus?
"Do you believe He died for your sins?"
He had grown up in the church and even gone to Christian schools, but he had turned his back on the Lord. I replied, "What is gong to happen to you when you die?"
He said, "I'll go to heaven."
I said, "Are you sure?"
And I said, "Are you willing to do God's will and surrender your own will to His will?"
Quite bluntly, he answered, "No."
I had to be totally honest with him, and replied, "Then you are not a Christian."
He said, "That's your opinion against mine."
I said, "No, that is what God's word says." I explained to him that if anyone is not willing to do God's will, he had better take inventory because the Scripture clearly teaches: "And how can we be sure that we belong to him? By looking within ourselves: are we really trying to do what he wants us to? Someone may say, 'I am a Christian; I am on my way to heaven; I belong to Christ.' But if he doesn't do what Christ tells him to, he is a liar. But those who do what Christ tells them to will learn to love God more and more. That is the way to know whether or not you are a Christian. Anyone who says he is a Christian should live as Christ did" (1John 2:3-6, TLB).
That was strong language, but that is the holy, inspired word of God. If you are not able to make the Bible the basis of your standards, what are the alternatives?
Don't get me wrong. I believe more strongly than most people that salvation is a free gift of God by grace through faith alone, not a result of works, so that no one can boast (Ephesians 2:8-9). And only God truly knows who are His and who are not. But the Scriptures give us strong words that we can use for self-examination. "Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you -- unless, of course, you fail the test? And I trust that you will discover that we have not failed the test" (2 Corinthians 13:5-6, NIV).
This does not mean that every time we fail God, we lose our salvation. Far from it. But it does mean we should stay on our spiritual toes to please, obey and serve God. Our good works confirm our salvation but do not contribute to our salvation.
Yours for fulfilling the Great Commission each year until our Lord returns,
The late Dr. Bill Bright was Founder and President/Chairman Emeritus of Campus Crusade for Christ, an organization which began as a campus ministry in 1951 and now has more than 27,000 full-time staff and up to 500,000 trained volunteer staff in 196 countries in areas representing 99.6 percent of the world's population. In the past 50 years, Campus Crusade for Christ has seen approximately 6 billion exposures to the gospel worldwide. The film, "JESUS," which Bright conceived and funded through Campus Crusade for Christ, is the most widely translated and viewed film of any type ever produced. Since its use began in 1980, the film has been translated into 839 languages and viewed or listened to by over 5.7 billion people in 228 countries. Dr. Bright was also the author of more than fifty books. Visit campuscrusade.com for more details
Copyright (c) 2003, Bill Bright. All rights reserved. However, readers may copy and distribute this message as desired, without restrictions in number, as long as the content is not altered. Forwarding this e-mail to friends is encouraged. For many evangelistic and spiritual growth materials, visit the Campus Crusade for Christ Web site at ccci.org. See campuscrusade.com for Bill Bright's own materials.