I’ve attended church most of my life. So I’ve probably been exposed to enough Biblical knowledge to at least qualify for an Associate’s Degree in divinity! But all that knowledge could have easily been part of one of the devil’s most sinister and eternally destructive tactics.
I lacked a key understanding
The good news is that the lack of church membership, denominational affiliation, orthodoxy allegiance, or religious heritage in my life won’t doom me to hell. The bad news is that none of it will get me to heaven either.
I was learning about God, and even claimed to have a Biblical worldview. But the devil’s plan was to make me feel like I was good. At that point the most dangerous place in the world can be a church.
Religious knowledge had at least soothed my conscience about my eternity. But the problem was that my view of what it meant to be a Christian was seriously flawed. I had religious knowledge but I lacked saving knowledge. I lacked a key understanding of what it meant to be saved from hell by God.
Saving knowledge is like a jigsaw puzzle
My wife’s grandmother always had a puzzle going every time we visited. Like most people she began with the edges and worked her way in. There was always a big gaping hole in the middle until she began to fill in the pieces and reveal the picture. Religious knowledge alone, or organizational affiliation is like having an incomplete jigsaw puzzle for faith — faith that is supposed to get me to heaven! I was always wondering, will it?
This described my early church experience. Week after week, Bible study after Bible study, I would fill in missing pieces along the edges of the puzzle, but there remained a big gaping hole right in the middle. But when I was finally confronted with my fatal misconception about my “faith” I had a real encounter with Jesus Christ.
People want to avoid hell
Who can blame them? That’s what kept me in church all these years. But the missing puzzle piece in my understanding of salvation was that I didn’t see why I needed a Savior. I only saw Jesus Christ, and His gospel, as a Biblical “redemption coupon” that got me free “fire insurance!” So I cashed in on the coupon by praying that standard “sinners prayer” and thought I was good to go! Literally!
The temptation now
The temptation in evangelism now is so to cut right to the “Jesus part.” Start in the middle of the puzzle and save people a lot of time! But the entire Bible is the gospel. So I share the gospel with people from the beginning — before the beginning actually — a condensed version.
Hell was never meant for human beings. God originally intended to live with mankind, not separated from mankind (because of my sin). Only Jesus Christ can restore that relationship. And therein lies my need for Him.