Friday, March 29, 2013

Can One Be “In The Church” But Not Saved?


A friend of mine recently gave me a copy of Ray Comfort’s book entitled God Has A Wonderful Plan For Your Life: The Myth of the Modern Message.  In it, Comfort shares fervently the belief that many have come to be in the Church, but are not truly born-again or as he says, “saved”.  He also quotes a number of renowned evangelicals of recent past as well as current times who agree with them.  Although not in that category (renown, that is), I do find myself leaning towards agreement.

I am writing this partly in response to my friend’s request that I tell him what I thought of Comfort’s book.  The evidence that the author provides is clearly undeniable and supported by many other sources – vast numbers of people have been led to believe that they are Christians when they are not.  (Some of you reading this may be among them.)  And we ourselves are to blame.

Comfort goes on to show how the message that “Jesus solves problems” or “Jesus provides happiness” is not exactly telling the truth.  Yet that is exactly what the modern church is doing today in its form of evangelism.  And while we’re at it, we are making the Gospel only attractive to those that feel they lack happiness or are in trouble – ignoring the millions who claim they are happy and doing very well, thank you very much.  The Gospel, he correctly points out, “is a promise of righteousness, not a promise of happiness.”

If people come to Christ for “happiness” – do they then leave Him (or worse still, believe God does not exist) when they have trials and tribulations feeling anything but happiness?  To address these issues, Ray Comfort calls on the “Law” first to help a person understand his/her failed condition before God and his/her need for salvation for the judgment that will come.  He quotes John MacArthur who says, “It is impossible for a person to fully realize his need for God’s grace until he sees how terribly he has failed the standards of God’s Law.”  Comfort, after he gives two wonderful “in flight” illustrations which I will leave my readers to enjoy on their own (pages 69-71 of the book), writes, “Instead of preaching that Jesus will ‘improve the flight,’ we should be warning sinners that one day they will have to jump out of the plane. ‘It is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment’ (Hebrews 9:27).”

So, while I can support all this and while I do not in any way, shape, or form support anything close to the ideas of the “prosperity Gospel” or “easy believism” and “Jesus will make everything just fine here and now” philosophies, I feel Ray has offered very little room for what I find to be so true for me as a Christian in this life, here and now.  Let me explain.

Billy Graham once implied something along this line: “If someone could prove to me beyond a shadow of a doubt that there is no God, that Christ never died and rose again, that there is no heaven or afterlife – I would still go on living as if these all existed.”  The point Graham was making is that indeed, being truly born-again does make a difference to how I live and how I can cope here and now.  And to me, the value of that is priceless.

So while I like where Ray Comfort comes from and I believe we need to help a person truly get to the point of feeling remorse and repenting before God, before he/she can be saved from eternal judgment, I believe we also can and should point out that our life here and now can be lived with the knowledge that Christ wants to live in us and we in Him.  He wants to walk beside us through the storms that will come and indeed for many of us are here right now.

May God bless you as you consider “how then shall we witness?”



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