By Ninos Hadjirousou
I was once introduced to man (and they are many today) who is known as a churchgoer. If you asked him ‘do you believe in God?’ he said ‘yes sir I do’. If you would ask him ‘are you going to heaven’ he would say ‘yes indeed’. But if you asked him ‘on what basis is God going to let you go to heaven?’ he would not understand what you mean by that question. Ask him ‘do you know God?’ he would not be able to answer you. Though he does not understand, he comforts himself by trusting in his church attendance and the infant baptism he had when he was a little boy. He thinks that it is enough to grant him a way into heaven! He also would believe that by being a good person and doing his best, may make God change his mind about all the other ‘small’ things (evil thoughts) and let you into heaven. But isn’t that tempting to say to God ‘I was good! I did what you told me to do. You owe me!’? Seems so.
Perhaps you have been going to church and felt justifying yourself, thinking that this is enough to please God to get into heaven. But dear friend, how do you know if you don’t know God personally without going to His book and believing His words?
Imagine a family had two sons. And they invited me to come into their home for lunch. I spend time with them, getting to know them, then I realised that I see one of the sons present, but the other is not there most of the time. The first son is always close to His Father, speaking to Him and asking Him various things. When we go to his Fathers field to show me his trees, the child is with us, observing our conversation and walking where the Father walks. Though the boy received a precious gift from His Father for his birthday and it was a nice gift indeed, I observed that he seems to enjoy very much spending time getting to know His beloved Father more than the gift. He is thankful for the gift but He is more thankful and more desiring to know His Father. Now, the other son, I have rarely seen him spending time with his Father. He rarely talks to him at all. I have only seen him come down from his room to the dinner table and eat food with us. He gets food without saying ‘thank you’ or ‘blessing his mothers cocking’. He eats his food and then rushes up into his room and closes his door. And spends time most of the day playing alone with his toys that his Father gave him. He does come to our dinner meetings and he also is present for the family celebration, but just for a little while. Does it not seems to us that he does not love to spent time with his Father, but rather prefers to spend time with the things that he has in his room? He may be put to work for his Father in the field, but that is all he does. No talk, no interest to speak to him, no personal interest for a relationship to develop in his life.
Does he think that the Father will give him something greater than what he has by doing these things? Maybe. He is as cold as ice. If you ask him ‘do you love your Father?’ he may say in order to keep a good reputation among the others in the Family ‘yes sir’, ‘I attend at the dinner tables and work for him’. Surely that sounds like a lie doesn’t’ it?
After finishing this long story, I will ask this question: which of the two sons do you think loved the Father the most?
You, good church goer, would tell me ‘the first’. And that is correct. Then the next question is: are you the second son or the first son?
Now the church goer struggles to answer. Because you are most likely to be the second son. Though you may feel insulted, Christ had to speak truths that offend others in order for them to know the truth. And what He did is the most loving act that anyone can do, speak the truth in love. Church goer, you have cleaned your clothes well and made them nit and tidy on the outside for everyone to see, but you have not done much on the inside. And the clothes already smells terrible! And though you seem to clean on the outside of the cup, dirty is your own cup on the inside. This is the reality and pride of the church attendee, he will be find on that final judgement day having a cold heart towards the Lord, like that second son in the story.
So ask him again ‘do you know God?’, he cannot answer. You don’t know God because you don’t love God. How can you love someone if you really don’t know them? You may believe they are there, but does that not make it worse in your case?
Learn the example of the humble, the first son who truly loved His Father because he knew Him.
We read in the Holy Bible that the Lord Jesus the eternal Son of God said that eternal life is that we may know Him our God (John 17:3). To know God is to have life. Knowing Christ means knowing that none of our works are enough to forgiven or to make us acceptable to God (Romans 3:20,27). Salvation and forgiveness of sins and eternal life is by trusting in the work and person of Jesus Christ (John 3:16, 14:6). If we have Christ, our sins are forgiven and we have peace and life with God (Romans 5:1). So the reason why the church goer does not know God is because that good church goer has never had any life of God in him. God’s word tells us that we are from the day we are born imputed with sin from Adam (Psalm 51:7 😉 and that we are spiritually dead in our sins (Ephesians 2:1). A dead person cannot raise himself up from the grave; neither can he respond to another man’s call; unless he has life. It is the Apostle John who wrote “He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life” (1 John 5:12).
The Bible instructs all to examine yourself whether you are alive in Christ or not, whether you are in the faith or not (Acts 17:11, 1 John 4:1-2, 2 Corinthians 13:5). Because if you are like that second son above, it maybe that you don’t have Christ. Think of what will happen to you, if you met the Lord and He said to you ‘depart from me, I never knew you’? (read Matthew 7:20-22).
It maybe that you are being influenced by a church which calls itself ‘Christian’ but actually makes you undermine the value and veracity of the God’s Word. It maybe that you are in a false movement where people take sin and the importance of Christian living as a very light matter and not a fundamental one (Psalm 4:3). Perhaps a false teacher has influenced you to believe that you are ok just the way you are and there will be no consequences on the final day when you stand before your Maker. The Apostle warned of such men to young Timothy (2 Timothy 4:3-4), run away from such things so as not to be taken by or tempted by them anymore.
Christ calls all those who are humble and lowly in heart to come to him with a repented heart and trust in His work upon the cross for your sins that He is able to forgive (Matthew 9:1-7, Luke 18:10-14). Forgiveness of sins and pardon of all sins is through the person the Lord Jesus Christ (1 John 1:9).