The late Dr. D. James Kennedy related an account of sharing the Gospel with a woman telling her if she believed in the atonement of Christ she would be saved. She replied, “If I say I believe I can be saved.” Dr. Kennedy corrected her, “No, if you believe you will be saved.” His point was there is an eternity of difference between saying you believe and actually believing.
This point is made in a couple of places in Scripture. James rhetorically asks, “What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him?” James 2:14. Saying you have faith when there is no actual evidence that you possess faith is useless now and later.
Jesus made that very point Himself, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.
“Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’
“And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness,’” Matthew 7:21-23.
On judgment day when those who disbelieved are confronted with the reality that Jesus is God and they are to be judged, they will try to lie their way into heaven, but Jesus will tell them He “never knew” them. Simply put, saying something does not make it true.
I thought about this this past week when I read an article titled, “’Drifting Away’ from Scripture: 30 Percent of Evangelicals Say Jesus Was Not God, Poll Shows.” Every two years Ligonier Ministries sponsors a State of Theology Survey. The study conducted by LifeWay Research revealed that thirty percent of “Evangelicals” say Jesus was not God merely a good teacher, a departure from what the Bible teaches.
An Evangelical can be defined as a Christian who believes in God’s saving grace through faith in the atoning work of Jesus Christ; they are Christians who believe in the authority and reliability of the Scriptures. People who say they are Christian or Evangelical may drift away from biblical truth, but Christians and Evangelicals do not.
I am not denying that Evangelicals may go through dry spells in their relationship with God because of neglect in reading the Bible and prayer, but those dry spells are used by the Spirit of God to create a thirst in the believer for the very things he has neglected.
One of the conclusions derived from this study was the need for the church to put more emphasis on the doctrine of Christology. But the person and work of Christ are clearly presented in the Gospels. People just need to read and believe them.