How Saved Are We?
By Michael L. Brown
Has the Church fallen asleep in the enemy’s lap?
For years we have preached a defective message—and now we have a defective Church.
This unsettling book challenges us to ask ourselves what kind of born-again experience we have had if it calls for almost no personal sacrifice, produces virtually no separation from the world, and breeds practically no hatred for sin.
Do we really understand what it means to be saved? Why then are we so complacent? Why are we so at home in a fallen world?
The American Church at the end of the twentieth century is experiencing a crisis. For years we have preached a cheap gospel and peddled a soft Savior. We have taught salvation without self-denial and the crown without the cross. We have catered to the unsaved and compromised with the world. Now we are paying the price.
Our “instant salvation” message has dishonored God and deluded men. Our faulty seeds have produced a flaky harvest. What a pitiful crop we are reaping!
As American “believers” we:
Spend hours watching television, but minutes watching in prayer; Are hungry for the sports page, but have little taste for the Word; Spend more money on pet food than on foreign missions; Love to feast, but hate to fast; Welcome God’s blessings, but are wary of his burdens.
Is this what Jesus died for? Is this our “new life” in him? Stop for a moment and think:
Anyone who spends more time playing video games than seeking God in prayer has no right to call Jesus Lord.
Anyone who takes delight in today’s perverted soap operas is serving another God.
Anyone who cannot die to sports for a season is worshiping idols.
“If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him . . . because friendship with the world is hatred toward God.” (I John 2: 15; James 4: 4)
In reality, whose friends are we?
It’s time for some serious soul searching. What kind of “born again” experience have we had if it calls for almost no personal sacrifice, produces virtually no separation from the world, and breeds practically no hatred for sin? How can we claim to be “born from above”? Where is the evidence of our “new nature”?
We call ourselves “citizens of heaven”—yet our hearts are caught up in earthly treasures. We sing, “We’re the people of God”—but we are entertained by the worst of the devil’s children. We claim to be “dead to the world”—yet we are more interested in temporal fashions than eternal souls. Something is wrong with our “salvation” experience! Bad fruits mean bad roots.
We say, “Just confess Jesus as Lord and you’re in!” He says, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of My Father in heaven.” (Matt. 7: 21)
We say, “Just come to the altar. It will only take a minute!” He says, “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to.” (Luke 13: 24) Who do you think is right?
Maybe we have truly “come to Jesus”; but can we say we are following Him? Maybe we have believed the “Good News”; but are we daily carrying our crosses? Jesus commanded us to “go and make disciples of all nations.” (Matt. 28: 19) Maybe we need to become disciples first.
Yes, salvation is “by grace through faith” and we can add nothing to it. But it is the grace of God that “teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age.” (Titus 2: 11-12) And true faith is known by what it does, since “faith without deeds is useless.” (James 2: 20)
Paul warned the Ephesians not to let anyone deceive them with empty words. “Of this you can be sure,” he said. “No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a man is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.” (Eph. 5: 5) Do we think that God’s standard has changed? Do “carnal Christians” go to carnal heaven? No.
“Without holiness no one will see the Lord . . .Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires . . .You are not your own; You were bought with a price. [Only slaves were bought with a price.] Therefore, honor God with your body.” (Heb. 12: 14; Gal. 5: 24; I Cor. 6: 19-20) We must come to terms with these words!
Discipleship is not optional. Neither is it cheap. Peter said, “Lord, we have left everything to follow you!” (Mark 10: 28) What have we left to follow Him? “Every material gift increases its value if it comes not from money you can dispense with, but from the sacrifice of something you would love to have.” (Richard Wurmbrand) How much have we really given for him?
Johanna Veenstra went as a single woman missionary to Africa in 1920. She lived in a primitive hut with dirt floors, plagued with white ants and rats. “When having my evening meal,” she reported, “here were those [white ants] in swarms, sticking fast in hand, dropping in the food—and I concluded a plague was upon us. There was no ‘shutting’ them out because in these native huts we have no ceiling.” But there were no complaints from her lips; and in spite of very little initial success, she had no second thoughts. There has never been a single regret that I left the ‘bright lights and gay life’ of New York City, and came to this dark corner of His vineyard. There has been no sacrifice, because the Lord Jesus Himself is my constant companion.”
Like the disciples of old, she was saved.
What about us? How saved are we?
By Tim Shey
My eyes weep blood.
Pharisees smile like vipers,
They laugh and mock their venom:
Blind snakes leading
The deaf and dumb multitude.
Where are my friends?
The landscape is dry and desolate.
They have stretched my shredded body
On this humiliating tree.
The hands that healed
And the feet that brought good news
They have pierced
With their fierce hatred.
The man-made whip
That opened up my back
Preaches from a proper pulpit.
They sit in comfort:
That vacant-eyed congregation.
The respected, demon-possessed reverend
Forks his tongue
Scratching itchy ears
While Cain bludgeons
Abel into silence.
My flesh in tattered pieces
Clots red and cold and sticks
To the rough-hewn timber
That props up my limp, vertical carcase
Between heaven and earth.
My life drips and puddles
Below my feet,
As I gaze down dizzily
On merciless eyes and dagger teeth.
The chapter-and-versed wolves
Jeer and taunt me.
Their sheepwool clothing
Is stained black with the furious violence
Of their heart of stone.
They worship me in lip service,
But I confess,
I never knew them
(Though they are my creation).
My tongue tastes like ashes:
It sticks to the roof of my mouth.
I am so thirsty.
This famine is too much for me.
The bulls of Bashan have bled me white.
Papa, into your hands
I commend my Spirit.
Iowa State University
Genesis 49: 10: “The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.”