Many of us know someone who claims that they once believed in Jesus, but now no longer follow Him. This is not a new phenomenon, it has been happening since Jesus arrived on earth 2,000 years ago.
What someone says is not always met by their actions. The test of any confession is what we do in the long term. Jesus was very clear that only those who endure till the end will be saved (Matthew 10:22). John later stated that because certain individuals had departed Jesus’ church that this was proof that they never were a part of it.
From this we know that the last hour has come. These people left our churches, but they never really belonged with us; otherwise they would have stayed with us. When they left, it proved that they did not belong with Him. —1 John 2:18-19 (NLT)
It is important that we have a clear understanding of what takes place when people begin to follow Jesus. In order for genuine salvation to occur a person must have a deep awareness of their sin and a burning desire to be cleansed from those sins. If a person has not arrived at a place where they hate their sins and want to change their life, then salvation cannot happen. Jesus came into the world to save sinners. Those who know that they are one, can find forgiveness and eternal life.
There are some people who go to church, hear a message, or read something about Jesus and they are moved—emotionally. On any given Sunday, people around the world may go forward or raise their hands to receive Jesus as their Savior. Often these decisions are made out of an emotional moment when a person feels something within their heart. Sometimes people are pressured into receiving Jesus by another person, or by pressure from within to change themselves.
In order for anyone to be saved, according to the Bible; they must be willing to turn from their sins (repent) and believe that Jesus death was the only solution for those sins. Jesus did not come into the world to make us better people; He came to make us New People. This process of becoming a new creation does not always happen by any external, visible, means. The change takes place on the inside where the spirit resides. At the moment that someone feels the need to have their sins forgiven, because they recognize that they have offended God by the way they have lived, then Salvation can take place.
The only proof that any of us have that we are truly saved is if we continue to believe and follow Jesus. The Bible is filled with conditional promises that depend upon the continual action of those who follow Jesus.
Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. —1 Corinthians 15:1-2
Here, Paul states that the Gospel that was preached, received, and stood upon—and this is what caused salvation—IF this person holds fast their faith, unless they had believed in vain. In other words, people who fall away from Jesus, never really believed in the first place. Paul said that their supposed faith was “vain,” or empty.
One of the leading causes of false-faith, which does not saved a person, is observed in the process of Religion. Many people assume that Religion is what faith is all about. Nothing could be further from the truth. Religion is a creation of man that presents a list of requirements to those who wish to be a part of that particular religion.
The stunning difference between what Jesus brought to earth and all of the religions of the world is seen in what each require. Religion requires obedience to a set of rule for salvation. Jesus requires a belief in what He has done, for salvation.
(Jesus) Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I the Savior, you will die in your sins.” —John 8:23-24 (RCR)
Those who are saved by Jesus, have nothing to do except believe: Believe that Jesus is God, sent to earth to bear all of our sins upon the cross. When He died our sins were atoned (paid) and they exist no more. God made Jesus to become our sins so that we might become the righteousness that Jesus is. We exchange our sin for His perfection and this is what makes us ready for heaven.
Some people go to churches and hear the messages about Jesus. They begin to attend that church and serve in various capacities. Some go overseas to serve as Missionaries. Others enter Seminary so that they can be a pastor or church leader. These persons assume that because they are doing all the right things, that their work will make them acceptable to God. It will not.
This is the message that Jesus delivered to the Pharisees of Israel. These men thought that because they were Jews, and religious leaders, this guaranteed their salvation. Jesus delivered the stunning news that they, were in-fact, the progeny of the devil. Their religion had not saved them, it had condemned them to eternal separation from God. These men substituted a reliance upon what Jesus has done at the cross, for their own good works. Jesus told these men that God would not accept them unless they repented of their sins and continued to believe in Him as their Savior.
The Pharisees, and many in Israel, were doing all the outward signs of the Religious, but they were not saved. Those who claim that they no longer believe in Jesus, are just like these men who looked religious, but were not saved.
Religion is pretending to be in love with someone that you don’t know. It is doing all the right things but not knowing the One you are supposed to be doing them for.
The followers of Jesus are not seeking to keep a set of rules in order to be acceptable to God. They know that there is nothing they can do to make themselves right-enough; so they come to Jesus who is perfect and makes those who believe, righteous by their trust in Him.
Love Is The Goal: It is by our relationship with Jesus that we are established. The goal is to know Jesus and understand why He had to suffer; what He suffered; and why we are also called to suffer for Him. It was through the things that Jesus suffered, though He is the Son of God, that He learned obedience (Hebrews 5:8).
If your goal is to know Jesus—so intimately that you can love Him more, then all of the things that He requires, will be very easy. Perhaps you have heard the words of Bobby Caldwell – “What you won’t do, you’ll do for love.“
We naturally want to please those whom we love.
If a person can walk away from Jesus, it is because there was no love. If there was no love; then there was no relationship, if there was no relationship; it will be very easy to walk away.
Jesus said that on the day when He comes to judge the secret thoughts of men that many will say to Him, “Lord, Lord,” but He will say to them: “I never knew you.” He does not know these persons because there was no relationship, therefore, He never was their Lord.
Have you seen Jesus at the post where His flesh was torn to pieces? Have you stood at the foot of His cross and seen the anguish that was on His face? Do you understand that He was not on the cross for anything that He had done, but solely because of what you have done? Have you understood that you could not have been saved unless Jesus had endured this brutal torture?
Those who have entered into a genuine relationship with Jesus and are deeply in love with Him, will never leave. They understand that there is no other place where they can find the words of eternal life. They realize that Jesus is everything that they were looking for and only He can truly satisfy the longing of their heart. How do I know these things are true? I have lived them for forty-two years.