Religious but Lost
Multitudes of kind, honest, sincere religious church members, when they come to the end of life’s journey, will awaken to the fact that they have missed heaven, because they had never been born again. They substituted church membership, confirmation, baptism and communion for the new birth.
Nicodemus was a ruler and teacher in Israel, but Jesus said to him, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God… Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.” John 3:3,7
Simon, who was baptized by Philip and seemed to be interested in God’s working, was told by Peter, “Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God… For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity.” Acts 8:22,23
There are many religious people who have never experienced the new birth, who think they can enter heaven because of their profession. But faithful attendance at all the church services, wearing a religious garb, trying to keep the commandments, giving money for the Lord’s cause, being kind to our loved ones and neighbors, helping the poor and needy, will not give us a passport to Heaven. Jesus said, “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Thy name? And… will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” Matthew 7:22,23
There is only one way by which we can enter Heaven, and that is by the way of the new birth. “He that… climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.” John 10:1
The Scriptures declare that we are born in sin. Psalm 51:5; that by nature we are dead in trespasses and sins, Ephesians 2:1; that “there is none righteous, no not one… for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” Romans 3:10, 23; and that without the new birth we are without God, without Christ, and without hope, Ephesians 2:12. The old nature, that we have inherited through the fall of our first parents, cannot be changed by reformation or by being religious.
Jesus said, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh;… Ye must be born again.” John 3:6,7 Only God can work this miracle in our hearts by the power of the Holy Spirit. For it is His mission to convict of sin, and to cause us to repent and definitely take Christ as our Saviour. As we do this, we do not only receive the assurance of forgiveness and cleansing, but an impartation of a new divine nature, and we can say with Paul, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” II Corinthians 5:17
This is the new birth. This is a crisis experience. We do not grow into salvation, but we pass from death unto life. There is a definite time when we are born again. It is just as real as when a man is rescued from a watery grave or from a burning building. We cannot save ourselves, nor can anyone impart eternal life, save our Lord Jesus Christ. There is nothing that we can substitute for the new birth.
If we depend on our religious training, saying our prayers regularly, the reading of the Bible and being orthodox in our faith (and that is all to be appreciated), yet we cannot be saved unless we definitely take Christ as our Saviour.
Dr. James M. Gray, who became an outstanding preacher of the gospel, said that before he was saved, he knew the Lord’s prayer and the ten commandments. He was confirmed and joined the church. But it was not until years afterward that he was converted. God used a traveling salesman, and the preaching of the gospel, which he did not hear in his own church, to awaken in him the need of being saved.
Charles Wesley preached the gospel with much diligence and earnestness, yet he did not know what it was to have peace with God, until he was about thirty years old. While he was seriously ill, and it seemed that he was about to die, a young Christian man named Peter Bohler visited him, and asked him whether he hoped to be saved. He answered in the affirmative. Then he was asked to give a reason for his hope. He replied that he used his best endeavors to serve the Lord. Peter Bohler looked very sad and shook his head. That sad, silent look, and the shaking of the head caused him to think, and his false hope was shattered. He was definitely led into the light, and he saw that through faith in the Lord’s finished work we are justified. In his sickroom he experienced for the first time in his life, the peace of God. It was during this time that he composed that wonderful hymn. “Oh for a Thousand, Tongues to Sing My Great Redeemer’s Praise.”
Religion and good works without a definite experience of salvation, will not give us an entrance into the kingdom of God. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.” Ephesians 2:8. “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.” Titus 3:5
Heaven’s door will open only to such who have been regenerated and washed from their sins through the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.
All others, no matter how religious or sincere, or how many good works they have done, will not find favor with God, for all our self-righteousness is as filthy rags in His sight.
Again I wish to repeat, that multitudes of good, honest, religious people will be disappointed when they come to the end of their earthly pilgrimage, because they lack the new birth. Have you been born again? If not, do not delay, but come to Jesus now!
S. J. Grabill