Saturday, April 17, 2010

How Can I Know I Am Saved?

We have tried to make this question the crux of Christianity: how can I know I will go to heaven?  The more appropriate question would be: how can I know I am saved? 

Either way, if you ask you are likely to get something along the lines of, "Have you ever prayed and accepted Jesus as your Savior?"  Maybe a little more or less theological-sounding, but that's essentially what people are looking for.  They are trying to remind you of that time when you were six years old and you repeated some prayer after some preacher and declared yourself "saved."

"Saved" isn't quite what it's cut out to be. 

Jesus said, "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?'" (Matthew 7:21-22, NIV). 

In Hebrew literature, repetition indicates significance and sincerity.  When these folks say, "Lord, Lord," it indicates that they have known about and professed Jesus for a long time.  It isn't like the kid who is caught climbing on the kitchen counter reaching into the cookie jar when his mom walks into the room and he says, "Hi, Mommy!" as if he isn't doing something wrong.  This is the kid who cuts the curtains apart and tries to sew the parts into a dress, and runs out to meet his mom when she gets home from work: "Mommy, Mommy, look what I made for you!"  Well, sorta.  These folks have been prophesying in Jesus name.  They have been driving out demons.  They performed miracles.  They are certain of their eternal security.

The problem is, their eternity isn't secure at all.  Jesus concludes, "Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'" (verse 23).  Oh, crud.  What went wrong here?  What about the prophesy and miracles and whatnot?  None of that stuff matters to Jesus.  He's not impressed. 

Well, if none of that stuff matters, what is Jesus looking for?

First, Jesus precedes this bit of information by drawing an analogy between people and fruit trees.  "A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them" (verses 18-20).  A Christian can be recognized by his or her behavior.

Jesus concludes his reply to those who said, "Lord, Lord..." by saying, "Away from me, you evildoers!"  EVILDOERS.  If you are still doing evil, you are not following Christ...and probably not going to heaven, either.

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