Today we end the series called, ‘Christian Atheist.’ What is that? It’s the person who says I believe in God but live like He isn’t real. They would say, I believe in God, but I don’t want to change my life to serve or follow God, I will continue to do what I want, when I want, how I want.
In this series we have been walking through a survey by George Barna. To be very transparent, the survey has broken my heart. I think this survey has revealed how true scripture is.
And so I insist – and God backs me up on this – that there be no going along with the crowd, the empty-headed, mindless crowd. They’ve refused for so long to deal with God that they’ve lost touch not only with God but with reality itself. They can’t think straight anymore. Feeling no pain, they let themselves go in sexual obsession, addicted to every sort of perversion. MSG Ephesians 4:17-19
When you don’t deal with God, you lose touch with God, you lose touch with reality, and you won’t be able to think straight about life. Today, I believe we are living with the ramifications of not aggressively putting God in first place in our lives and in our culture. We need, desperately, to repent and aggressively put God in first place.
The statement we talk about today is this: I am personally certain to have eternal salvation only because I have confessed my sin, and accepted Jesus as my savior.
Evangelicals 72% accept, 28% reject salvation based on confessing sin and Jesus as my savior.
Pentecostals 55% accept, 45% reject.
Mainline Protestants 41% accept, 59% reject.
Catholics 28% accept, 72% reject.
That means, on average 51% reject salvation that is based on confessing their sin and accepting Jesus as their savior.
What does the Bible say?
If we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. NLT 1 John 1:9
15 All who confess that Jesus is the Son of God have God living in them, and they live in God. 16 We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. NLT 1 John 4:15-16
If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. ESV Romans 10:9
Let’s be clear, based on scripture, when you confess your sins to God and ask Jesus to be Lord of your life, you can be secure and know, God has given you eternal salvation. It’s called grace. Why does this matter? Because there will be a day of judgement with two outcomes: heaven or hell. And if you have confessed your sin and placed Jesus as Lord of your life, you never have to be afraid of the day of judgment or dying.
Scripture explains what the day of judgment looks like.
11 I saw a great white throne and the one who sat upon it, from whose face the earth and sky fled away, but they found no place to hide. 12 I saw the dead, great and small, standing before God; and The Books were opened, including the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to the things written in The Books, each according to the deeds he had done. 13 …Each was judged according to his deeds. 14 And Death and Hell were thrown into the Lake of Fire. This is the Second Death – the Lake of Fire. 15 And if anyone’s name was not found recorded in the Book of Life, he was thrown into the Lake of Fire. TLB Revelations 20:11-15
When Jesus was with His disciples, this is how He described that moment.
47-48 Again, the Kingdom of Heaven can be illustrated by a fisherman – he casts a net into the water and gathers in fish of every kind, valuable and worthless. When the net is full, he drags it up onto the beach and sits down and sorts out the edible ones into crates and throws the others away. 49 That is the way it will be at the end of the world – the angels will come and separate the wicked people from the godly, 50 casting the wicked into the fire; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 51 Do you understand? TLB Matthew 13:47-51
Based on scripture, we know there will be a day of judgement with two outcomes: heaven or hell. When you confess your sins to God and ask Jesus to be Lord of your life, you can be secure and know, God has given you eternal salvation.
The day of judgement is final. There are no redos. There will be no arguments. No attorneys will be representing you or defending you. No deals will be cut behind the scenes. There will be no excuses. And on judgement day, your feelings won’t matter, and you won’t be able to blame anyone else. That day, your sense of, ‘this isn’t fair,’ won’t decide the outcome. That day, you will stand before God. The Book of Life will be opened. And they will look for your name.
I love you enough to share this with you and ask you five questions to think through this moment.
Question 1: Is your name in the Book of Life?
Have you ever confessed your sins to God and asked Jesus to be the Lord of your life? If you have, according to scripture, you can have confidence that your name is in that book. And when you stand before God on judgement day, the punishment that you should receive has already fallen on Jesus. That’s grace. That’s why the cross and resurrection are central to Christianity.
If you have never confessed your sins and placed Jesus as the Lord of your life, you are here today because Jesus is inviting you to give your life to God. He wants to write your name in the Book of Life.
Listen to these verses.
16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world. NIV John 3:16-17
That’s for you and me. If you want Jesus to be Lord of your life, pray with me, “Dear God, I confess that I have sin in my life, and I can’t do anything about my sin. God, I ask that You would forgive me and wash my soul clean from sin. God, from this day forward, I want Jesus to be the Lord of my life. Please anoint me with the Holy Spirit and empower me to follow Jesus every day.”
Question 2: You think your name is in the Book of Life, are you sure?
What an awful question – right? I don’t ask this to create doubt, but I want you to think through something Jesus said. If this creates doubt, forgive me, I want to reassure you, if you have confessed sins to God and asked Jesus to be the Lord of your life, you can have confidence that your name is in that book.
Jesus taught this.
13-14 “Don’t look for shortcuts to God. The market is flooded with surefire, easygoing formulas for a successful life that can be practiced in your spare time. Don’t fall for that stuff, even though crowds of people do. The way to life – to God! – is vigorous and requires total attention.
15-20 “Be wary of false preachers who smile a lot, dripping with practiced sincerity. Chances are they are out to rip you off some way or other. Don’t be impressed with charisma; look for character. Who preachers are is the main thing, not what they say. A genuine leader will never exploit your emotions or your pocketbook. These diseased trees with their bad apples are going to be chopped down and burned.
21-23 “Knowing the correct password – saying ‘Master, Master,’ for instance – isn’t going to get you anywhere with me. What is required is serious obedience – doing what my Father wills. I can see it now – at the Final Judgment thousands strutting up to me and saying, ‘Master, we preached the Message, we bashed the demons, our super-spiritual projects had everyone talking.’ And do you know what I am going to say? ‘You missed the boat. All you did was use me to make yourselves important. You don’t impress me one bit. You’re out of here.’
24-25 “These words I speak to you are not incidental additions to your life, homeowner improvements to your standard of living. They are foundational words, words to build a life on. If you work these words into your life, you are like a smart carpenter who built his house on solid rock. Rain poured down, the river flooded, a tornado hit – but nothing moved that house. It was fixed to the rock.
26-27 “But if you just use my words in Bible studies and don’t work them into your life, you are like a stupid carpenter who built his house on the sandy beach. When a storm rolled in and the waves came up, it collapsed like a house of cards.” MSG Matthew 7:13-27
Jesus was teaching about our relationship with God. He said, what is required is obedience. This ordinary way of living where we follow Jesus. We surrender our will. And we do what He says. We read the Bible. We pray our prayers. We learn how to love others in real life. It’s called Godliness. This is real Christianity. And to be honest, it’s not very popular. People aren’t lining up to surrender their will to Jesus. Why? Because it requires us to kill off their egos, our pride, and our self-will to follow Jesus.
Jesus taught us to obey, and He taught against what so many are attracted to. Shortcuts, quick and easy formulas to success. Pastors who have charisma but no character. The super-God projects that has everyone talking. Leveraging church stuff to make yourself look good. By the way, this way of doing Christianity is very attractive, very exciting and very popular. Why? It feeds our egos.
Jesus even talks about judgement day when people will say, “Jesus, look at what we did for You! All the programs and events!” Jesus will say, “I don’t know who you are, we were not in a relationship.” This should shock us and make us think through how we live. Is Jesus the Lord of our lives? Are we developing a relationship with Jesus? Are we enjoying a personal relationship of obedience with Jesus? Think about that here in church. Jesus, I preached for you. Jesus says, ‘Who are you, I don’t know you?’ Jesus, I did worship, I did Children’s ministries, I lead teams to do stuff. Jesus says, ‘Who are you, I don’t know you?’
That shakes me up to realize, I need to be with God before I do stuff for God. What matters is that Jesus knows my name, not banging out another church service.
Question 3: Who do you know, who is not in the Book of Life?
That is the person who you pray for and love. Reach out to them and be a friend. I would even suggest, the best relationships you could have are relationships with people who are not in the Book of Life. If your friends are in the Book of Life, tell them you will hang out with them in heaven for eternity but today, you will spend time with people whose name is not in the Book.
And yes, you can hang out with friends who are in the Book of Life, you get my point – right?
This is why Mountain Ridge Church was created and our greatest desire is to plant more churches. Imagine a place, a church, that is focused on the Book of Life. A place that is passionate, relentless and unapologetic about having people’s names listed in that book.
Can you think through a more important mission to be a part of? I can’t. Think through this with me. That is why we prioritize serving at MRC. That’s why we rearrange our finances to give to MRC. That’s why we consistently attend MRC. We do this on purpose to build a community for people who need their names in the Book of Life. Imagine if church wasn’t about you. Your likes and dislikes. Your constant desire to have what you want. Imagine if you gave your life to Christ and asked Him, ‘How can I serve You in Your kingdom?’
I must say, if you think that is a marketing tool to get you to serve, give and attend, I think there might be a little hardness or a hurt in your heart and it’s a struggle to see through a spiritual lens. Chances are you have forgotten what people did for you to experience God’s grace.
Long before you got here, when MRC was planted, you should know, people in our conference took a risk and gave $180,000 over three years to help us. It’s normal for 70% of new churches to fail in 3 years but with their support we survived. You should know, a ton of people got together and made over 12,000 phone calls to create a list of around 1,000 people who didn’t attend church and were interested in hearing about a new church. You need to understand, the launch team got together and committed to change their routines, come early, set up and pray – every Sunday for years. It’s normal for 80% of launch team members to leave by year two. We were fortunate to see people stick it out long past that.
Do you see what I am saying? This isn’t about marketing. This is about building God’s kingdom on purpose. Why? Because people don’t have their names in the Book of Life. Is there a greater mission you could be a part of?
Question 4: Imagine judgement day. You are looking back over your life. In that moment, what was most important to you? Was it your time on earth or is it your time that is coming in eternity?
I think, in that moment, you will conclude, eternity is most important. I think people might look back and say something like, “I wish I would have… [fill in the blank].”
I want you to think about your life. You might be able to live here for 100 years. However, I guarantee, your life in eternity is forever. I did the math, eternity is longer. That simply means, don’t live for today, live for tomorrow.
If it helps you, look at it like this, your life on earth is like you living in a hotel room. It’s temporary. Have you ever spent time in a hotel room? You were there for a night or two and then you went back home where you live. Your time in the hotel room, did you look at the room and try to fix it up? Did you buy a bigger TV? Did you buy new art-work to fix it up? Maybe get a better door with a better lock? No you didn’t. Why would you ever spend time and money on that hotel room? That would be silly, you are only there for a short time. You will soon be going to your real home. And that would be the point.
Your time here on earth is temporary. Your time in heaven is forever. To be clear, this doesn’t mean you don’t enjoy life and can’t fix up your property. It simply means, understand what is more important. On the day of judgement, you will view things differently than today.
Question 5: Moving forward, how do you decide how you will live?
I beg you to not allow one more day to pass by without addressing your life. Why? There will be a judgment day with two outcomes: heaven or hell.
Make sure, your name is in the Book of Life.
And don’t be that Christian who has been around Christianity so long, we have become numb, you just go through the motions. The real question is, does Jesus know your name?
I think you need to think through who you know who is not listed in the Book of Life.
I think you need to think through your role in your local church. Remember what others did for you to create a place for you to find God’s grace. Now it’s time for you to step into your role.
Make sure, you live for eternity, not for today.
Please hear me. There will be a judgment day with two outcomes: heaven or hell. That means your life matters and how you live matters.