(Galatians 1:6) “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:”
Even though I was born in America, attended religious classes, took part in religious ceremonies, joined a church by fulfilling the requirements for membership, memorized parts of the Bible, prayed and was baptized, I was not a Christian by God’s definition. One Sunday while I was in eighth grade, I attended a youth group and heard something called “the gospel.” I believed it. My life and eternity were changed forever. I have never been the same.
The day I became a Christian, I changed my mind about three things: Myself, God and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Myself – First, I had to realize that I was a sinner regardless of whether I was born in America, raised in religion or lived a life trying to do good.
God – Second, I had to realize that God loved me and did not want to judge me. But unfortunately, because I was a sinner, He was going to judge me and my sin would keep me separated from Him forever.
Jesus Christ – Third, I had to realize who Jesus really was. He wasn’t a religious figure sent here to teach us how to do good. As God, He was sent here because God loved me. I had to realize He died on the cross for me, in my place, to pay for my sins. I also had to realize He rose again from the dead in order to give me eternal life.
The gospel is a name given to many different messages in our world today. But the Bible only defines one true saving message for us today:
(1 Corinthians 15:3-4) “For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:”
It was hard for me to accept that salvation came by faith and not by doing something. I learned that I could never do enough good to earn God’s acceptance. I could only be accepted on the basis of what Christ did for me in His death, burial and resurrection.
Unfortunately, listening closely to a lot of preaching and teaching leads me to believe that Christianity has not guarded the purity of the message. So many proclaim a message that makes the terms of salvation sound like it requires works rather than faith. I fear there are people sitting regularly in the pews who may not even know Christ because they are trusting in a message that may be called the gospel but is not the true gospel.
I examined the websites of the 5 largest churches in America and looked at what they call their “Beliefs” or “Statement of Faith.” I had to dig a little deeper in some of the website to find their description of salvation. Most agree that Jesus Christ died for our sins, was buried and rose again. But most also add a few steps to the process of obtaining salvation. For some, you have to make a “commitment.” Others say you have to “change your heart towards God” as part of the transaction. The very truth that salvation comes by grace through faith is being cloaked in language that could actually cause people to think there are some works involved! The reality is, we can never make a meaningful commitment to God or experience a change in our hearts until we come by faith to the salvation of God.
If you’ve never received Christ as your Savior, I invite you to change your mind about yourself, God and Jesus Christ right now. You can know for sure where you will go when you die and have the capacity to live a life pleasing to God with your remaining days. Will you trust Him alone for your salvation?
Christian, change your mind about the gospel. Listen for the clarity of the message being preached. This isn’t about being critical. It’s about the very basis of our existence as Christians. We must demand a clear gospel message from ourselves, our churches, our leaders and each other. The gospel is the starting point towards a renewed mind.
Renewed Thought – Change your mind today about the gospel.