Often, today’s society prefers to ignore many controversial truths, instead of openly addressing them. Sadly, some modern churches follow this trend on important issues. Whether these churches promote a salvation based on a flicker of emotion or factual knowledge without heartfelt belief, the consequences have clearly permeated our culture. Many Christians possess a basic understanding of Scripture and salvation and yet neglect to carry out these truths in their everyday lives. When this failure occurs, these “in name only” Christians miss the mark of true belief in many ways. Professing Christians today must seek a personal relationship with Christ based on Scriptural truths.
God’s foremost commandment requires the love of His people. Scripture clearly expounds upon the subject of love, depicting it in all its forms. John 15:13 describes the greatest gift a person can bestow, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends” (NKJV). Yet, Christ bestowed this gift upon the elect through His death on the cross. He paid the price for our disobedience so “whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16b). When the Bible then commands, “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength,” the Christian has no ground on which to refuse this mandate (Deuteronomy 6:5). Indeed, Christians should not need to have such a commandment; they ought to love God with a truly heartfelt response in gratitude for the price of their salvation.
With only a head-knowledge of Scripture, people can misinterpret the true meaning of faith in Christ. True Biblical belief is not based upon feelings or fact, but the heart’s confession of Christ. Ephesians 2:8 assures people of their inability to earn salvation. Nonetheless, Matthew 10:32-33 also requires the acknowledgment of Christ as Lord: “Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven.” In other words, Christ died for those who believe in Him, but not for those who reject Him (John 3:18). These passages of Scripture stipulate belief, not merely knowledge. Therefore, Christians must have a conviction of the heart for true salvation to occur.
From this confession of Christ, the works, or “fruits,” of faith readily spring forth; yet, with only a factual understanding of Scripture, many believers do not live out their faith in their daily lives (Matthew 7:20). This practice fails miserably against the required standard from Scripture. Many verses necessitate actions accompanying faith. James 1:22 puts it simply: “Be doers of the word, and not hearers only.” Faith requires action and input from the professing believer (James 2:17). Whether by “[going] . . . and [making] disciples of all the nations “ and “teaching them” or “[letting] your light so shine before men, that they may see . . . and glorify your Father in heaven” Christians must boldly live out their beliefs in all areas of their lives, instead of restricting Christ to Sunday service (Matthew 28:19-20; Matthew 5:16).
Similarly, a heartfelt conviction of Christ builds a foundation against temptation a head-knowledge of Scripture cannot hope to construct. Matthew 7:24-27 narrates the story of two men who built homes on different foundations: the fool built on the sand, but the wise man assembled his home on the Rock. When “the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on” the houses, the fool lost everything; but the wise man, rooted in Christ, stood fast against all opposition (Matthew 7:25). Those who do not stand securely rooted in Christ often do not have the strength to resist the devil; they frequently fall away just as the seed planted on stony places withers (Matthew 13:5-6). But a faith established on a firm belief in God “shall not be shaken” (Psalm 62:6; ESV). Christ is a sure foundation to those who rest on Him. He does not fail in His promises of protection: “Therefore, submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” (James 4:7-8a; NKJV).
Professing believers who retain only a factual comprehension of scripture without obtaining a true, Christ-based faith have no purpose for their knowledge. Matthew 7:21-23 and 25:31-46 recount similar, sobering descriptions of God’s judgment of the nations. In this, Jesus says to those who served Him in words only, “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness” (Matthew 7:23). Yet, to those who trusted in Christ and lived their lives for Him, He says, “Come . . . inherit the kingdom prepared for you . . . for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink . . .” (Matthew 25:34b-36). Just as a head-knowledge of Christ is not acceptable for salvation, so also a faith without truly believing in Christ cannot enable a person to pass into the gates of heaven. Therefore, a lip-service faith does not profit a man.
With many of today’s churches preaching weak messages filled with opposite extremes of emotional or factual faith, people cannot act surprised when they pause to consider where the Christian impact on society has gone. Though the churches receive the brunt of the responsibility of proclaiming and obeying the unbiased truth of Scripture, the blame for Christian inactivity also falls to the individual person. Christians must separate themselves from the world and pursue a God-based life. No longer can believers restrict their faith to a lip service of weekly church attendance. Instead, Christians must seek Christ with their hearts and obey Him with their actions. “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).