A 360 Degree Turn

 One of my favorite verses is found in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” It truly is an amazing concept. From the moment of salvation we become completely different creatures. Old things are passed away and all things become new. I believe the Bible. I know many of you reading this make the same claim. We believe that God has opened our eyes, turned us from darkness to light, and made us sons and daughters of the Most High. Being crucified with Christ, we no longer serve sin but righteousness (Romans 6:6-18). We are not the same as before.

So tell me, how is it possible for a person who claims salvation to sit in church their entire life and never change? How is it that year after year they never spiritually grow? How can a person who was saved 20, 30, or 40 years ago not know more Scripture, Bible doctrine, or Christian principles than when they were first saved? How is it, that in some cases, they are actually worse off spiritually than before?

Time and time again I have seen this. The sad thing is that in some places it has become so commonplace that no one even recognizes it anymore. We have accepted the fact that “some Christians” will never change. I believe that if we would take a deep look at the message that we have been giving people for the last 50 years we would see the problem. It all begins with “Easy Believe-ism”. People have reduced the gospel down to…

“The ABC’s of salvation”

“Raise your hand if you want to go to heaven.”

“Sign this card and join our church”

Or…

“Repeat this sinner’s prayer after me.”

Perhaps at the moment of salvation you did one of these things. And you are thinking, “I know I’m saved.” However, true salvation was not because of this but in spite of it. Easy Believe-ism says that God loves you and wants you to live in Heaven with Him, so if you will just believe in your heart than you will be saved. But it takes more than belief. The devils believe and they tremble. “Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble,” (James 2:19). I have seen people who claim salvation but have never shown any type of filial (reverential or holy) fear toward God.

You see, the problem with this belief is that it completely removes repentance from the equation. Without repentance there cannot be salvation. A friend shared with me about a little girl at her church that had recently been “saved.” Someone asked the little girl if she was happy that she would not have to spend eternity in hell. The little girl said, “I don’t know what you are talking about.” No one had told her about hell. They simply asked her if she wanted to go to Heaven and be with Jesus when she died. They told her to repeat a prayer and then declared her saved. When I heard this my heart broke; because the truth is that if this little girl did not know about hell, she knew nothing about judgment. And if she knew nothing about judgment, than she could not repent of her sins. And without repentance there is never salvation. Now this girl will go through life with a false sense of security. She is worse off than before. She will think she is saved but it will be impossible for her to grow spiritually. She is still in darkness.

Most people have very good intentions when they are trying to win someone to the Lord. But if we are not careful we will sell people a “bill of goods” and not present to them the whole gospel.   The whole gospel requires repentance.  The whole gospel creates completely new creatures.  The whole gospel presents Lordship.  In Luke 14 Jesus said a man should count the cost before becoming a disciple. Yes, salvation is offered free, but once a person is truly saved they will follow their Lord. And being a disciple of Christ will cost everything. “So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple,” (Luke 14:33).

Many times this Easy Believe-ism leads to someone thinking they are saved and getting “on fire for the Lord” only to turn away after some time. It looks as though they have made a 180 degree turn in their life. They are faithful, they read their Bible, they do good works, and they might even witness. But all of a sudden the cares of this world enter in and choke out the word. They drop out of church and go back to their old lifestyle. Their 180 degree turn changes into a 360 degree turn. And they are worse off than before. Consider what II Peter 2:20-21 says, “For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them.”

I believe in the security of the believer. Once saved – always saved. It is just that there are many people who are deceived into believing they were once saved. They might sit in church their whole life and never change. Or, they might be faithful for a while. They make that 180 degree turn on their own only to keep on going until they are back around to 360 degrees. But it is important, for the sake of souls, that we understand that the latter end is worse than the beginning.

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