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March 3, 2008

Christianity = Formulated Prayer?

    If you spend any time with me in person, you'd know know that I really like to listen to podcasts.  There are several that I really like, and when you work a job like recycling, it helps tremendously to have things like that to take your mind off what you are doing.  There are several that I really enjoy and if you'd like to know what they are, just email me.

   Recently I finish going through Journey Group leader training at my church.  That is our version of home groups/home Bible studies.  During the training, there was a great conversation of what "salvation" really looks like.  To the typical church in America, there is a wonderful moment where people pray the magic prayer.  More often than not, it is tied to an emotional event in which people finally realize the error of their ways and decide that going with Jesus is really how it works.  One of the questions I was asked that really challenged my thoughts on this was, "When did the disciples get saved?"  At this point, I kind of scratch my head and realize that not only did I not have a good answer, but more likely there wasn't a good answer . 
   Today, I listened to a podcast where the guy was teaching on what qualified people to be Christians.  Jesus never told people to pray any certain prayer and really addressed the idea of salvation a number of different ways in scripture.  In fact the idea that comes across often in scripture is that many people will say they are Christians when they stand at the judgment but Christ will tell them He never knew them.  We will in fact know Christians by their fruit, or their actions.  The more I read the teachings from the Bible, the more I wonder if it really is as easy as saying a generic prayer. 

   I'm sure that statement is going to offend a lot of people and perhaps it really is a guaranteed way to get "fire insurance," but I would think from scripture that there has to be some sort of evident change.  If we know Christians by their fruit, is someone who has no fruit still a Christian?  It seems to me that someone who truly encounters Christ would not be able to help but have some of those evident changes.  This guys argument was really good.  He compared Christians in American to a guy who marries a girl that tells him on their wedding day that even though she loves him and he's the one for her, she is not ready or willing to give up her boyfriends.  That guy would never marry a girl like that!  The life following Christ has to must show evidence.  The cross changes things and if there is no change in the life, was Christ even encountered?  He states, "In American we have offered the resurrection benefits without preaching the cross."

   David states in 1 Chronicles 21:24 that he would not, "sacrifice a burnt offering that costs me nothing."  Living a life for the Lord is one that is going to require changes and sacrifice.  Sure God may choose to bless you financially, but His primary concern is your heart being in line with His.  If those physical blessings follow - Awesome - but if they don't, we have no less requirement to live a life set apart.  Personally, I don't believe someone can "taste of the Lord" and not be changed as a result.  It has to be more than lip service.  It has to be more than empty words saying I believe in God.


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