Many people nowadays think that if they make it to church on a Sunday morning, they are doing their bit for the Lord. Such people don’t comprehend that being a Christian is about having an on-going relationship with God – a relationship that we don’t deserve, and one that we can only have on the basis of what Christ accomplished for us on the cross. It’s also a relationship that we continually sour by straying into things the Lord would rather we didn’t do or saying things he’d rather we didn’t say.
Many people think that if they live what they consider to be a ‘reasonably good life’ then they will make it to Heaven when they die. They don’t understand that in order to ‘earn’ a place in Heaven, a person would have to live a life of perfect holiness – not just for part of their life, but for all of it – from the first breath to the very last. It’s rather like taking an exam in which the pass mark is 100%. Even if we get as many as 99.9%, we still fail!! None of us has the capability of such perfection. The only person who ever trod the face of this earth who had that perfection was Jesus Christ Himself. Jesus is therefore the only person who deserved a place in Heaven on His own merit. He was able to accomplish that because He was God in human form. God Himself inhabited a human body for 33 years and then died the worst death available (although His physical suffering, terrible as that was in itself, was nothing compared to His spiritual suffering). Jesus did this to pay the price for our forgiveness, to ‘carry the can’ for all of us. In being our Saviour, it’s as though Jesus took that ‘exam’ for us, achieved the 100% pass mark and handed the diploma to us – at no cost to us!
When we do things that we know displease Him, we need to confess that before Him and ask His forgiveness. Time and again, I know that I myself fall short, and I need to go back to the Lord and confess that. We need to be aware that it’s the Holy Spirit that convicts of sin in our lives. In the Bible, 1 John 1 verse 9 clearly tells us that if we confess our sins to the Lord, He is faithful and just, and will forgive us. Christians don’t make it to Heaven by being good – but by being forgiven. The slate is wiped clean. Our past sins are forgiven and forgotten. We are declared perfect, even though we aren’t, purely through His forgiveness. Some people fear that making a lasting commitment to Christ will mean giving up things they enjoy. But this misses the point. When someone turns to Christ, the spirit of Christ — the Holy Spirit — indwells that person, and their priorities change!
Christ didn’t tell His disciples to go out and make converts, He told them to go out and make more disciples! The word ‘disciple’ means ‘learner’. When someone becomes a Christian they never take their L plates off!
A church isn’t a social club, where we meet together to have a chat over a cup of tea. Neither is it a place where we suffer boring sermons and then carry on as before. If that’s the case, you may be in the wrong church! It’s a place where we can work on that relationship with God, where we worship the living God, where we can share things with others and pray and give encouragement and spiritual support. It’s a place where we can lift Him up and give praise to Him, because of what He has done for us. I believe the full realization of that will become known to us only when we go to be with Him. Many people think that born again Christians are people who have really “got it all together”, but this isn’t necessarily true. We all need to constantly go back to Him and repent for any wrongs that we have committed and work on our relationship with Him.
I once heard of an Anglican church near to where I now live, where people also went to spiritualist meetings – even though the Bible gives us specific warnings not to dabble around in it! Not without good reason. This particular deception is one which is a particular abomination to God. It’s my belief that people who attend spiritualist meetings to make contact with a deceased person are actually making contact with a false spirit masquerading as these people. Satan and his minions know all about those departed people too.
We need to be aware that Satan is the complete master of deception. The area of deception that I think he has the most success is that of hoodwinking people into believing that he doesn’t exist at all! He would also have us believe that we can still contact deceased loved ones, exploiting our sadness and our emotions to the full. When a person departs from this life, one of two things happens – they either go to be with the Lord in eternity, or they are separated from Him, depending on whether they accepted or rejected Him during their lifetime. While the spirit of a born again Christian immediately goes to be with Christ in heaven when they die, the physical bodies of those who have chosen to put their trust in Him await to be resurrected on an appointed day. Either way, once a person has died, they cannot be contacted. We need to keep in mind that we cannot defeat Satan in our own strength – only by putting our trust in Christ and seeking His guidance.