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Pointers along the way #705

Second hand salvation?

- Jacob Ninan

Many preachers assure people too quickly that they have become children of God through grace, even when there has been no conviction of sin, repentance or understanding about what the death of Jesus offers for the sinner. These preachers are too eager to add to their numbers, and conduct caesarian section on pre-term babies. And then they are not around when these babies struggle with life's challenges!

God encourages us to check for ourselves whether our faith is genuine and we are truly God's children (2Co.13:5). This is valid especially now when the Gospel message has been distorted much. Preachers misquote verses out of context or without telling people what the other parts of the Bible say. Or they misinterpret verses to mean things God never meant to say. So there is a great danger for us to assume or make ourselves believe that we have already become children of God. We may try to avoid the pain of discovering we were mistaken or the trouble of checking. But isn't it better to undergo tests and get proper treatment than to tell ourselves everything is fine and die unnecessarily?

God may use different things to draw us to Him, even by doing miraculous things for us or giving answers to prayer. But when we get near to God because of them, we should see His holiness and mentally fall down before Him in recognition of our sinfulness (Is.6:3-5). It is then that God offers us salvation by giving us forgiveness through the death of Jesus in our place (vv.6,7). Answers to prayer do not tell us that everything is fine between us and God; they only show that God is good. To establish our relationship with God, we must first approach Him as sinners without hope in ourselves (Mk.2:17).

God has raised up teachers to explain God's ways to us. But we must know that the best of teachers can make mistakes (Ja.3:1,2). So we must not mark our salvation entirely based on what they say. We need to develop the habit of checking with the Bible what we hear, irrespective of how well known the teacher is (Ac.17:11). We can also use commentaries by godly men and check with what other teachers have to say. This does not mean we are showing disrespect to our teachers but recognising that anyone can go wrong.

I recognise that there are those who cannot do this because of natural limitations and need help from others. Such people have to be more careful about choosing their teachers. We should look for those who sincerely care for us, and stay away from those who are after money or who are trying to become great. But laziness is not an excuse for getting deceived about our salvation.

In the early church when there were no printed Bibles to read, Christians had to be careful to keep their heart right before God and to walk in obedience to what they understood. The apostles were not always available in the different local churches to clarify their questions. People knew that they had to be careful for themselves and one another.


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