This past Sunday our pastor was teaching on Romans 1:16-17, and just what defines the Gospel. During his sermon, he told about a conference for pastors he had just attended. While he didn’t state as much in the sermon, I learned later that it was a conference put on by the Evangelical Free Church.
It seems the keynote speaker at this conference said churches today have the message all wrong. Pastor Steve told us that the keynote speaker said, “Churches are filled with weak, apathetic Christians whose lives do not differ from people outside the church. Therefore the issue must be the message.”
So far, I had to agree with the speaker - to a point. Sometimes the message can be perfect, yet the people just don’t listen or don’t apply it. I see it often.
Steve continued telling us what the speaker said: “He went on to explain to us that the Gospel required more than faith - it requires life change.” Steve then said that the pastors and colleagues around him were all shaking their heads in agreement - much to his amazement.
Well, the point Steve made, and what discerning Christians should know, is that there is only one thing required by the Gospel for salvation - faith in Christ’s work which paid for our sin. Salvation is by “faith alone”! We don’t have to change our lives to be saved; a person may not even have a chance to change his life if he gets killed soon after believing the Gospel (such as in combat).
Too often people confuse sanctification with salvation. We don’t need to change our lives to be saved, but once we are saved we will naturally change our lives to conform with our profession.
What is sad, is that people I talked to afterwards said they never would have caught that erroneous teaching, which put them right there with the other pastors at the conference.
I read once that discernment isn’t the ability to tell right from from wrong, rather it is the ability to tell the difference between right and almost right. And that is certainly what was needed in this case.
What about you - can you tell the difference between right and almost right? If not, you need to get back into the Word.