- Adam Butler
False Claims of Salvation
Imagine you are meeting your best friend for lunch. You arrived at the designated restaurant promptly, at the time decided upon by you and your friend. You are waiting for five minutes, ten minutes, and then fifteen. Finally, your friend arrives, significantly later than when they were supposed to. They say to you, “I am so sorry! As I was on the way here, I had to step out of my car, and got hit by a mack truck that was speeding down the highway! I’m okay now, but it hurt really bad.” Your friend does not have a scratch or bruise anywhere on their body.
What would your first two thoughts be? You would either believe your friend is lying or completely crazy, and rightly so! Having been supposedly hit by a massive truck is a huge claim. We would expect to see evidence of such a claim from the one stating such an assertion. Unfortunately, such is the life of many Christians.
Too many Christians are making a massive claim, like the illustration. The difference is that this claim is even greater. Many Christians claim to have been saved by grace, but show no evidence of such.
Salvation is a life-changing event. Do we realize how big of a claim we are making when we state that Jesus has saved us? What we are claiming is that we, who are depraved, wretched, sinners, have been rescued from our sin and from the wrath of God, by the person and work of a man named Jesus of Nazareth. The result, then, is new life in Jesus Christ and redemption in him. This salvation, which is a gift and not the result of anything we have done, grants us eternal life in heaven once we die or once Jesus comes back to take his Church home. We are claiming to hold to the one truth that can provide people salvation from eternal damnation. To say the least, that is a massive claim.
Many Christians claim to have been saved by grace, but show no evidence of such.
If we as Christians are going to go around telling people that we are, in fact, Christians, then our lives ought to reflect such a claim. Too many of us, however, claim to be changed by grace, but live just like the rest of the world. Our words, actions, reactions, jokes, habits, hobbies, and spare time are just like those who do not know Jesus. Perhaps this is the reason for one of the most terrifying verses in all of scripture:
Jesus says in Matthew 7:21, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.”
Is Jesus saying that there are people who think they are saved but are not? Yes, he is.
There are many churches in America which are boastfully preaching a compromised gospel. Feel-good, prosperity, “Bubblegum” sermons tell people that the gospel is all about you and how to better yourself. This could not be further from the truth. The gospel is a call to die. Jesus calls us to take up our cross in order to follow Him (Luke 9:23). Following Christ requires us to be a completely, committed, disciple.
But is not salvation by grace alone, through faith alone? Absolutely. However, genuine salvation always bears evidence of inward change. As Jesus says, a tree is identified by its fruits (Luke 6:43-44). He even teaches that branches which do not bear fruit are cut off by God and thrown into the fire (John 15:2).
God’s Word is clear: genuine transformation is not without evidence. Every time someone comes to know Jesus in scripture, they are radically changed. Our lives should be the same. We, as ambassadors for Christ, have an obligation to serve as an example to those who are still in the dark. Too many of us are apathetic, or even hostile, to radical transformation in Christ. We allow our lives to be devoid of any true repentance. But the life of a true believer is always marked by an outward display of inward change. We should be heartbroken for the sinfulness around us, moved to respond in truth and grace, and unashamedly proclaiming the Gospel of salvation to anyone who has ears. We should be giving generously of our resources, making an effort to disciple our children, lead our families in study and prayer, and living selflessly, not focused on worldly desires. We should be gracious but truthful in our words, taking every opportunity which is presented to speak the truth of scripture.