The Religion of Do

by Mike Ratliff

But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,’ for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. (Matthew 3:7-10 ESV)

I watched a special on the National Geographic Channel over the weekend about a small group of people who absolutely refuse to believe that NASA landed men on the Moon in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. I graduated from High School in May 1969 and I remember very well watching the lift off of the Apollo 11 mission to the Moon. I watched the coverage of the mission from end to end. Then several years later when these accusations came out from these skeptics I was astounded.

The program I watched dealt with each “proof” these fellows had that, in their minds, proved that it was impossible for any manned spacecraft to make the trip to the moon. It was interesting as each of their “proofs” were proven to be simply their assumption about something. They were basing their attacks on invalid or incomplete suppositions. The most telling thing for me, however, was how these fellows never once went to the scientists who were still working with the Moon rocks brought back. They never once approached the scientists who were still working with the experiments left on the Moon by the Astronauts. They never once asked to see the telemetry data that independent scientists all over world used to track the mission.

Even when all of their suppositions were proven to be invalid and they were presented the telemetry data, they still scoffed and refused to believe it. I found it interesting that even though these men had once worked either for NASA or a contractor for NASA, they were not scientists.

Is there the same sort of stubborn blindness pertaining to Christianity? Yes, sadly there is. Spiritual blindness is a darkness beyond our ability to describe. This blindness is rampant in the “Church” in our day. Jesus prophesied about this.

“Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able. When once the master of the house has risen and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, open to us,’ then he will answer you, ‘I do not know where you come from.’ Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets.’ But he will say, ‘I tell you, I do not know where you come from. Depart from me, all you workers of evil!’ In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God but you yourselves cast out. And people will come from east and west, and from north and south, and recline at table in the kingdom of God. And behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.” (Luke 13:24-30 ESV)

Many who believe they are Christians are not. They have a form of righteousness, but it is not the righteousness born from above. It is self-righteousness. One group that contended with John the Baptist, Our Lord Jesus Christ and His disciples, was the Pharisees. Who hasn’t heard believers accusing other believers of being a Pharisee? These accusations are usually thrown at people who are stricter than the accuser in their judgments of saved and lost. The Liberal calls a person who judges on the basis of regeneration as the only evidence of saving faith as being a Pharisee. The mainstream church-goer calls all fundamentalists Pharisees. The antinomian calls those who preach Lordship salvation Pharisees.

Is this accurate? Are these examples of modern day Pharisees? Let us look in the Word for our answer.

Who were the Pharisees of the Bible? They were the religious conservatives within Judaism. They held very strictly to the Torah and the Talmud and were outwardly very moral. They were the leaders of the majority of the Jews and were very popular with the common people. They were revered by their followers for their religious zeal and dedication, and they were models worthy if imitation. Their main opposition were the Sadducees, the religious liberals within Judaism. They did not believe that the damned will be punished eternally in hell and that the saved will dwell eternally in heaven. The Sadducees were popular among the high-class minority.

The first mention of the Pharisees in the Bible s found in Matthew 3:7-10, which I placed at the top of this post. Here is is again.

But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,’ for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. (Matthew 3:7-10 ESV)

Why would John the Baptist say that the Pharisees, who were outwardly moral, zealous, and religious, were the brood of vipers? Why would he say that they had not brought forth good fruit? Isn’t obedience to the law good fruit? Who was he to judge the hearts of these find upstanding religious people? Wasn’t he being too harsh with them? Couldn’t he have toned it down a bit? Was “brood of vipers” really necessary? Isn’t that mean and unloving? How did he expect to gain an audience with such language? Didn’t he know that one catches more flies with honey than with vinegar? And what was he doing lumping them in with the Sadducces, who didn’t even believe in an afterlife?

John the Baptist was absolutely correct in his rebuke of the Pharisees. Both John and our Lord reserved their harshest words for these men as well. The reason Liberal Theology has so decimated the Church in our day is that most Christians have believed the lie that they must not speak up or confront other professing Christians. Why? They believe that it will reflect badly on Christ and the Church to have these contentions made public. Well, John the Baptist and our Lord certainly didn’t refrain from telling the truth.

However, before Christians can emulate them, they must know the reason why the Pharisees were judged to be lost by our Lord and John. We cannot make these judgments based on any feelings about them. We cannot “discern” that they are lost. We must look at the evidence and judge them to be lost based on Biblical truth.

Jesus said to them, “Watch and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” (Matthew 16:6 ESV)

The Greek words for watch is ορατε or “horao.” It means to discern clearly. What were the disciples to beware of? The answer is found in Matthew 16:12.

Then they understood that he did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees. (Matthew 16:12 ESV)

The Greek Word for teaching is διδαχης or “didache.” It means instruction or doctrine. The disciples were warned by our Lord to beware of their doctrine. Their doctrine was the evidence that they were lost. Now I know that many believe the doctrine of the Pharisees to be correct, but their problem was their legalism. Those who say this often use this argument to call those who insist on correct Gospel doctrine Pharisees. However, our Lord’s words tell us that their problem was their doctrine not their legalism. They did not hold Orthodox doctrine. Instead, they held heterodox doctrine.

het·er·o·dox
-adjective
1. not in accordance with established or accepted doctrines or opinions, esp. in theology; unorthodox.
2. holding unorthodox doctrines or opinions.
[Origin: 1610–20; < Gk heteródoxos of another opinion, equiv. to hetero- hetero- + dóx(a) opinion (Compare dokeǐn to think, suppose) + -os adj. suffix]
—Related forms
het·er·o·dox·ly, adverb
Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1)
Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2006.

The Pharisees held unorthodox or heterodox doctrine. Jesus also tells us that they worshiped God in vain.

“‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.'” (Matthew 15:8-9 ESV)

These men did worship and appeared to be very worshipful. However, since they held false doctrines they were lost and, therefore, their worship was in vain. Their doctrine was not of the Sacred Scripture, but was the doctrines of men. They emphasized tradition over Biblical commandments. (Matthew 15:6) They did not abide in the doctrine of Christ. (2 John 9) Since their doctrines were of men instead of the Sacred Scripture, they made their judgements on their vain imaginations. If you have ever participated in some “theological discussions” with emergents or liberals then you will recognize that one.

Thus you will recognize them by their fruits. (Matthew 7:20 ESV)

How can we know of what someone’s doctrine consists? Jesus said that we can know this by observing their fruit.

“For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit, for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thornbushes, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” (Luke 6:43-45 ESV)

I know that many have not grasped this truth, but our Lord is always right and He says that the fruit is what a person’s mouth speaks because the mouth speaks what is in the heart. Therefore, we can know what the Pharisee’s doctrine consisted of by observing their spoken words from the Bible.

He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: (Luke 18:9 ESV)

This passage introduced Jesus’ parable about the tax collector and the Pharisee praying in the temple. He spoke it directly to the Pharisees. The Pharisees relied on themselves for their righteousness. This is self-rightetousness. They believed that their good works merited them God’s favor. Their doctrine or theology was one of “Do” instead one of trusting in what God has “Done.”

I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For, being ignorant of the righteousness that comes from God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. (Romans 10:2-3 ESV)

This description by the Apostle Paul is of all self-righteous Jews, not just the Pharisees. It is also a description of all self-righteous professing Christians who are depending upon their own works to save them instead of trusting in what God has done for them. Zeal for religion based in the knowledge of false doctrine is nothing but an abomination to God. According to this passage we see what the missing piece is in all “Pharisee’s” doctrine. What is it? They are ignorant of the necessity of submitting to God’s righteousness. Where can we learn of God’s righteousness?

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” (Romans 1:16-17 ESV)

But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it– the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. (Romans 3:21-26 ESV)

People who are ignorant of God’s righteousness cannot submit to it. Therefore, they go about establishing a righteousness of their own. This is why we stress the Sovereignty of God so much here. This why I try to end each piece I write with either “SDG” or “Soli Deo Gloria.” This is why we must come to terms with God’s righteousness if we are ever going to grow in Christlikeness and become Spirit-filled. Only those who walk by faith are obedient in their submission to God’s righteousness for every deed done in the flesh is sin.

This is also why we must learn proper doctrine such as Salvation is by Grace through Faith. We are justified by faith alone, apart from works. Through this we learn that the righteousness which saves us is imputed to us. It is Christ’s righteousness, not our own. If we take this to heart we will not view our salvation as a correct decision, but instead, we see it for the miracle it is. This changes everything in how we serve Him. How can we be self-righteous if our salvation was entirely by Grace?

As many of you know, I grew up as a Southern Baptist. I was a Deacon in two SBC churches, one in Oklahoma and the other in Kansas. I was a Bible teacher as well. In 2004-2005 I underwent a theology overhaul by God. The end result of that was that my theology become subject to the Sovereignty of God. I finally came to understand that salvation is God’s work from beginning to end. Through this understanding I looked back at all those years in the SBC and it made me weep. Why? Much of the SBC culture is one of “Do” instead of being built around what God has “Done.” The emphasis is on “a changed life” instead of the Sovereignty of God.

I remember the countless Deacon meetings where it seemed that all we ever did was to strategize how to get the pew sitters busy. The evidence of salvation we looked for in people was how busy they were because of how God had impacted their lives. Of course, now I know that regeneration makes Christians New Creations who have a faith that is alive. This enables them to not sin if they walk by this faith. Instead of looking for this “change” we looked for how religious people were.

Phariseeism is the Religion of Do. Christians in bondage to this will view their salvation in the context of a decision. They will attempt to live this out by being as religious as possible. Of course, unless they are regenerate and have the Holy Spirit, they will eventually stumble. Some will remain religious of course, but without the supernatural power of a regenerate heart, saving faith, and The Holy Spirit they will find their own righteousness instead of possessing Christ’s Righteousness. This is confusing sanctification with justification. Justification is a declaration by God of not-guilty on our behalf. Sanctification is the process whereby Christians are conformed unto the image of Christ as they abide in Christ. Those in the Religion of Do attempt to sanctify themselves by being religious. They believe their “works” merit them favor from God. It is no different than what the Pharisees did in Christ’s day.

Undoubtedly there are some genuine Christians in the Religion of Do. I was one. I pray that God will draw them out of it into the light. We must not condemn, but pray for and share the truth with them. It is not being Pharisaical to tell the truth.

SDG

This post was partially adapted from the article “What is a Pharisee?” found at Outside The Camp. 
While I do not agree with the hyper-Calvinism that is found on this site, this article was a tremendous exegetical resource on Biblical Phariseeism.

40 thoughts on “The Religion of Do

  1. Understood Mike and agree with you and the Word. But……..what if you have someone who has their doctrine right, but NO LOVE for the breathren and look for anything they can to ‘beat up’ anybody that either says in a way they don’t understand or someone who hasn’t been grown up enough to understand that yet? In other words, the person is saved like you were, but when you didn’t understand the error you were in, if someone came to you to just pound on you, and not in a loving way at all, to tell you the ‘right’ way, then how do you respond to someone treating people like that? They have the right doctrine, but they go about telling people with the wrong kind of spirit? They are just looking for someone to pounce on. Even if they are right, their approach is dead wrong and you tell them that, but they continue to reject your concern………..then what? Right on doctrine, but dead wrong approach to other people. Anger instead of gentleness.

  2. Paul,

    That is something we must not do. I contend that there are many who do have good doctrine, but they have not the Holy Spirit. Oh yes, that is entirely possible. This is why I talk so much about becoming Spirit-filled. :-)

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

  3. Prior to regeneration, we did not have the ability to do the will of God. We neither had the desire because we had not died to the world. We sought to do what seemed right according to the natural, unaware of how wretched and filthy our flesh is. The cross slayed us, it instructed us, disciplined us, and sustained us through our weaknesses because were so helpless. Because we really were poor and miserable.

    To the world, meekness means weakness. But to the Lord, this is the moment where God is most glorified. In our weaknesses, there is no room for pride… NO opportunity to glory in our flesh. Even mighty Moses who was slow to speak (some say that he may have had a speech impediment), glorified God. Shame on those preachers who say that the sick or disabled cannot glorify God.

  4. When I look back on the moment God humbled me and saved me, from that point till now, I have had no role in this miraculous salvation. I worked with a few professing ‘Christians’, and not once did any of them come to me with the gospel. God brought me down, and God has been guiding me every step of the way ever since. There is a well-known evangelist who encourages people to make a decision for Christ, he is affiliated with the SBC; also, they put a great deal of importance on baptism. Sadly, I have been around people who were baptized as a youth, and are active in their sins. They say, ‘I was saved when I was seven’. This is frightening!! The SBC, as well as this well known evangelist, and his son, are sending people down the wide road. This ‘once saved, always saved’ mentality is rampant. Pastor Paul Washer speaks out against this repeatedly. I currently attend a SBC church; however, my pastor follows scripture and only scripture. I am in awe of what the Lord has done, He alone is responsible for saving me, and molding and shaping me into His image.
    Thanks Mike for the article, I pray for people of all denominations. Each one seems to have its own ‘stumbling block’. I believe your article makes a valid point; let’s not be loyal to any one denomination; instead, let us be loyal to JESUS CHRIST ONLY!!

  5. Wonderful, Mike. As I am studying Galatians, this is right on. I realize more clearly how much of an affront self-righteousness and exaltation of “good works” is to the Lord and how many are deceived by them. We so want to do things in our way and with our own strength…so that we can take the credit and get the glory. But God will share glory with no one!

    Paul,
    I came to a realization some time ago that there is a form of self-righteousness and immaturity in those who beat other brethren down (those who are babes or just ignorant of the Word) rather than gently and lovingly showing them the scriptures, planting the seed (or watering it) and letting God increase it. I was like that early on when my eyes were open to a lot that was false. I had (and still do) a zeal for the truth and I catch myself even now, wanting to tell someone something and then having Holy Spirit nudge me to be quiet. Not everyone can handle things at a particular time. It took me awhile to get that.

    Also, our Lord had His harshest words for the religious, legalistic ones, not those who were in need of gentleness, mercy, and love. We have to be discerning about how we say certain things to people. It may not get through the first time, but we don’t have to badger them about it. I find that the Lord works in them in His timing, according to His will.

    Pray for those who have the truth, that they may use it to His glory and not exalt their knowledge for the sake of making other brethren feel bad. He changed me!

  6. Amen Laurie! Thanks for sharing that. I know there are some wonderful Christians in the SBC and there are many very good pastors who preach the word of God. I am very glad you have a pastor like that.

  7. Thanks Melissa. We know someone like this. He has the truth and is very very knowledgable, but he beats everyone and anyone up who hasn’t ‘arrived’ at his level yet. Instead of being gentle, loving, patient, you know, the fruits of the Spirit………hello! And he thinks he has to be in charge because no one else knows it like he does. He forgets that at one time he was in the very same place as they are. So we have to agree with Mike on him not having the Holy Spirit. Head knowledge only. And we do continue to pray for him, because if the Spirit does get a hold on him, he could be a real valuble vessel for the Lord. And we know it would be hard for this guy to understand, but he doesn’t have it ALL yet. None of us do. We all have room to grow. If he has someone lash back at him after a few blows, then he demands an apology. Well who (if he was Spirit filled) needs the apology? Him or Jesus? Who was insulted? It takes awhile but decernment sometimes isn’t that easy. So the fruits of the Spirit are one thing we check out in a major way.

  8. I’d like to respond to Laurie’s comment. I don’t think the problem is the “once-saved, always saved mentality”. If we could genuinely “lose” salvation, then Christ is a liar in John 3:16. If we take the Bible literally, then everlasting has to mean exactly what it says.

    The real problem lies in the “easy-believism” of “I said a prayer, now I’m saved and I can do whatever I want” mentality. God does not save us merely so that we can have a “fire escape from hell.” He calls us to an intimate, personal relationship with himself, even as Christ called his disciples, not the multitudes who only came along for the miracles. The true disciples were those who gave up everything to follow Christ by faith. After Jesus’ crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension, they turned the known world upside-down for Christ. They persisted even to their deaths.

    Those who are truly saved will have evidence (fruit) of that salvation in their lives (Eph. 2:8-10). It saddens me to think that there are MANY so-called “Christians” today to whom Christ will say “I never knew you.” They may have received the seed, but when the hard times came, they fell away; they never bore any fruit.

  9. I have a question which I hope you guys will be able to answer, this is not a question designed to go against your beliefs but to set my own.

    If Jesus did exist as the bible shows him to, why didn’t he perform more miracles and help more people?

    Thanks for any help.

  10. T-shirts,

    Is your name Fraser? First, we do not know how many miracles or good works Jesus did. The Bible just says that everywhere He went He healed people and cast our demons, et cetera. He may very well have “helped” thousands (if not much more) of people in the temporal sense. These good works were signs of who He was, the Messiah. His primary mission was not to just do these good works, but to live a perfect sinless life thereby becoming the perfect lamb of God. He was sacrificed on the cross to pay the penalty for the sins of His people. On the cross, God placed the sins of those people on Him. When people believe the promises of God through the Gospel, Christ’s perfect righteousness is imputed to them. In this way Christ has “helped” untold millions of people from that time until the end of this age to have eternal life.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

  11. Mike,

    I love the article and agree with it. As you know from our prior conversations that I’m very much a sovereign grace believer.

    However, I noticed you linked “Outside the Camp”. I’ve read this site before and they believe that Spurgeon, Calvin, AW Pink and many more teach heterodoxy. I sure hope you are not linking to this website as one you would approve of. This website is the epitomy of hyper-calvinism and does great harm to the correct understanding of the doctrines of grace.

    In fact I believe that they would say that an Arminan can not be saved, so to them you were not saved until 2004-2005. Just hoping you can clarify your thoughts on this group as I really wouldn’t want anyone to link to them and believe that this group is not in serious error with some of their judgements on Christians and accusation of heresy on men like Spurgeon, Calvin and AW Pink to name a few.

    God bless,

    Todd E.

  12. Todd,

    You are right about that site. I linked to it in this post to show where I got the material on Phariseeism. To them I am a whiny Calvinist who believes people can be saved by hearing the Gospel that does proclaim Justification by Faith alone. :-) I was a believer for 19 years before I became Reformed. It was at that time that I explored all the various teachings on theology. Hyper-Calvinists are very good at exegeting scripture so we can “learn” some things from them as long as we are careful.

    Thanks for pointing this out.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

  13. Mike,

    I thought that was probably the case. That kind of site assisted me to struggle longer than necessary with calvinism. Ultimately God was gracious to me to allow me to see the difference between hyper-calvinism and True Doctrines of Grace and that salvation was entirely of the Lord.

    Thank you for the clarification. Also, wanted to add that this article is so timely because I have been discussing this topic of “works righteousness” with some friends. I have passed on the link, because you have been given the gift of teaching and conveyed what I had in my heart, but can not express in words and with as much biblical precision as you have done. I appreciate your steadfast commitment to proclaiming God’s Sovereign Grace through the eternal Word of God.

    God bless,

    Todd E.

  14. We can’t hardly find anyone who believes other than a works-grace righteousness. Its an epidemic. And if you say anything but what they say about works……….look out! Even if you can prove it with scripture, they get SO mad. They do not want to hear it period! I guess if you squeeze them hard enough, what’s inside comes out.

  15. In reality, I have never heard a Calvinist preach works, but sadly I have heard a few Arminians do it. The entire reformed/reformation thoelogy centered around “Justification by Faith”. I have never seen works in any of that.

    Throw mud and see if it sticks?

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  17. May I respond to Carrie’s comment on easy believism; I agree with you. Due to the fact that some I know were baptized around 8 or so, they now are convinced they can still live any way they choose and still go to heaven, thus, easy believism. This has been my personal experience with at least two people, they both were baptized when they were young, and now are convinced they are going to heaven; regardless of what the gospel says. They prayed the prayer, I am sure, before they were baptized, then the dunking is what obviously ‘sealed it’ for them. One woman in particular pointed it out to me specifically that she was baptized and she’s going to heaven; end of discussion! I pray for her and all who said a prayer, walked an aisle, were caught up in a moment, or whatever means a preacher may use to boost his numbers…

  18. One comment about sanctification. Praying the sinner’s prayer is acceptable to the Lord if it is sincere. It must be with genuine repentance. I have shared the gospel with some who have merely gone through the motions, moved their lips and recited the prayer out loud, but had no desire to repent from their wicked lifestyle. There are people who love their sin, and just will not let go of it because they enjoy it. Repentance means to turn from sin. Licentiousness is when people pray the prayer, wear a cross, go to church, even carry a Bible, and have absolutely no conviction to turn away from sin, and they believe that the forgiveness of the cross means that they are given a license to sin. They say, “It is ok, don’t judge me, Jesus will forgive me.”

    In regard to knowing the Lord…. It cannot happen without sanctification. Knowing the Lord requires God to regenerate you without you having to make an effort at meriting his favor. Sanctification is the process where an individual dies to the world, sin, and self. It is impossible for the natural man to know the Lord, because their is no good which dwells within one’s flesh (carnal nature). The nature which men are born opposes the Spirit. That is why we are enemies of God by birth.

  19. Yes Mike, it really is. When I come across people who are lost in deception, it makes me so-o-o grateful to God for what He has done for me. The only difference between me and that lost person in God’s grace…how blessed am I??!! I often wander why God chose me, and have cried many a tear over this prized gift He has bestowed upon me. It is very rewarding for me to take time and ponder over what God has truly done for me, what it all means, and just how magnificently awesome He is. I pray I never lose sight of this…

  20. Laurie, I’m glad that we agree, and I thank you for not taking offense to my comment. The call to Christ is, as Josh said, a call to repentance, to a changed life by God’s grace alone and through our yielding to the Spirit’s control in our lives. As you said in the last sentence of your second comment above, it is certainly more than walking an aisle, saying a “prayer” and/or even being baptized. We cannot “be holy as He is holy” if we refuse to repent and consistently live in sin. In fact, I would question whether such a one is truly saved. We may be able to stray and “run our own lives” for a time (I did that, I’m sad to say), but the Lord will bring us back to Himself if we are really His. If we don’t receive His chastening when we sin, then maybe we are not “sons” at all (see Heb. 12).

    I was also talking with my dad about this earlier; he mentioned that some are really saved at an early age, but never have the opportunity to grow in Christ until later in life. Such was the case with my grandma. She was saved in the same Sunday School in which my dad was saved when he was 4, but it was not until my grandpa was saved and they all started going to a new church together, that she really started to grow in her walk with the Lord.

    I think the Lord puts higher ‘requirements’ on those of us who have “grown up in church” (particularly Bible-believing, teaching churches) moreso than those who are new believers. Unfortunately, I also think growing up “in church” (even if it is Bible-believing, teaching) can make the adult Christian life more difficult as far as living by faith is concerned. We “know” the answers, have heard “the stories”, and we have a “head knowledge” of Christ, but in our intellectualism, we lack the yieldedness to the Spirit’s control. That yieldedness is the whole of the Christian life.

  21. Bottom line – Heart Motive.
    And often ONLY God is aware of this, for our heart deceives us quite often.

    You can say the “sinners prayer” and be saved – – IF God so chooses to save that person.
    No prayer, not even the Lord’s prayer, has the ability to save – these are words, either from a born again person, or lost – there is no in between. You cannot be almost lost, or almost saved.

    God has compassion on whom HE chooses.

    We just need to remember that anyone of us can be and will be deceived. It may be something that is considered essential, or one of the non-essentials – – but nonetheless, as long as we are in this body there will be deception. We, true believers, will not be perfect until we rein with Christ. So no man can boast, but rather, keep looking to Him. Daily we must die! Daily He must live!

    We need to be on guard at all times, taking a ‘defensive’ position, but remain in love…in Christ.
    And, IF we are Born Again, we Have His Spirit to guide us into all truth – – to Him, which is TRUTH.

    And no matter how far we think we have come – if we could stand before our Maker at this moment – – we all would feel as though we are a person of unclean lips and probably cry out, “O what wretched man am I – forgive me Father”.

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  23. Mike thank you for this post. I wish that you might expound on these truths a little more in the future. The reason being that many, many do not bring out these truths. People do not understand what constitutes “phariseeism” and so they throw that term around. And so it is so good to see it explained. Also, the “religion of do” is rampant in the evangelical church. My old church had this (well several former churches did, come to think of it). It was a bible church, and from every angle it looked to be totally solid. And there were solid people in that church. But every single Sunday from the pulpit we got “three ways to be a better ________”, God’s way to _________, etc. etc. Ad nauseum. Jesus Christ was hardly mentioned, maybe at the end of a prayer, or when the scripture that was read contained His Name. Otherwise it was basically moralistic lessons. People did not discern that this was not real Christian teaching because the scriptures were read and bible words were used. Jesus Christ’s Person and Work were never mentioned, unless it was the most basic of all statements such as his death on the cross (not what it meant, or any of the implications of it, just the fact of it). I became spiritually starved and went home every Sunday beating myself up inside because I had come so short of what the scripture said I had to do. Finally we got up the courage to leave, not knowing where we were going, but that we just couldn’t sit there week after week. Praise the Lord that there are solid preachers of the true gospel and the Word of God. We have since found a solid, bible teaching church.

  24. Sherry, excellent point! There are many who have the head knowledge, but are void of the power of the Spirit. The heart is still unregenerate and cherishing sin. Too many pastors, preachers, ministers, etc. dance around the need of repentance; this was the first ‘sermon’ Christ preached {Mat. 4:17}. We are to work out our salvation with fear and trembling, and so many are puffed up and filled with pride over what they think God has given them. Let us always pray to remain humble, yielding to God’s Spirit, and not thinking more highly of ourselves than we should.
    Carrie, I agree with your comment; may I add this…if someone truly belongs to Christ, they may wander for a while but God will chasten them and bring them back into the fold. Yes, it is possible to be saved at a young age, I hope I never gave you the impression otherwise! But, if 40 years later, this person bears no fruit, then you would have to question the validity of their salvation. I don’t mean to point a finger in their face and tell them, ‘you are going to hell'; but to give them the truth in love. I would be willing to guess they have never heard it. I thank you both for your insight, may God be glorified for the wisdom He gives each of us, and may He richly bless Mike for this opportunity we have to share what God has given us!

  25. Pingback: The Righteousness That Exceeds That of the Scribes and Pharisees « Possessing the Treasure

  26. Laurie,

    The primary reason that pastors will dance around repentance, judgment, sin, hell, and the severity of God is because they don’t want to lose their job and a comfortable salary. It is my understanding that the elders usually vote on selecting the pastor. If the elders are not true converts, then they will choose a pastor which tickles their own ears. We certainly live in a time where even the elders are false converts.

    False converts love a message which does not offend the masses. They love story tellers, stand up comics, motivational speakers, and actors. Since the pastor is driven by numbers in order to increase revenue, the church then functions like an IBM company instead of a family. The elders and the pastoral staff will see themselves as “untouchables” whom you cannot approach, and that you cannot hold them accountable to any Biblical error. Any honest questions which you may have will often be shunned while they play the martyr. You will of course be treated as the persecutor, and unbelieving if you point out a serious doctrinal error in their program. If you set out to challenge them on a false teaching, be prepared for some serious rejection. I challenged a group which I thought was my church family, and they flat out told me to leave, and to not come back.

    Hold on for the ride. Fellowship with those who are also coming out Babylon. God always speaks to a remnant of his people in every generation.

  27. Pingback: Amazing Four Part Series On Religion Versus Faith! « Jesus Christology

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