The other day I saw an online post that said, “If this were your last day, what would you do?” My first thought was that of the war in Ukraine and those people, right at this moment, who know this will likely be their last day on earth. They hear the rockets exploding, they see and smell the thick, acrid smoke; they huddle together, holding close those they love; they pray and wait. My heart cried at the thought of their anguish, but even as I prayed for them I was thinking, “What if it were me? What would be my final heart’s cry?”
As I did the mundane chore of cooking lunch my mind was there with those folks who are in great distress. It clarified my thinking and sobered me and gave me an immediate eternal focus. I thought, “If I only had one more article to write, one more opportunity to speak, one more chance to make a difference in the lives of all people, not just the ones I know and love, what would I say? What would I do? What is most important?”
Everyone on Facebook would say to tell your family that you love them. It is sweet and important but it is not the eternal word that I would feel driven to give.
As I pondered all this, my thoughts went to God’s Word: “Even a child is known by his doings, whether his work be pure, and whether it be right” (Proverbs 20:11). This is an odd verse to come to mind at a time when such heaviness filled my heart, yet this verse stirred in my soul, and for a very real reason. Many children profess to “get saved” and parents rejoice and reinforce to their child the idea that they are safely in the arms of Jesus and will go to heaven someday. It is very akin to the folks that baptize their infants, leaving the parent with the strong assumption that now all is well with their child’s soul.
Please don’t get me wrong; I know that a child can really come to Jesus and become one of his own. I was just 9 years old when I trusted Christ as my Savior. Mike was 13. But I know—and many of you reading this know—that many, if not most, of the kids that “invite Jesus into their hearts” do not really get saved. Nothing changed. Nothing was born into their soul making them a new creature. Most people say, “Well, they are just kids. What do you expect?” I expect the same of a youngster who becomes a child of God that I expect of an adult when they get saved. Like the verse says, “Even a child is known by his doings.”
So where does that leave all the people who are trusting their prayer for salvation? The Bible tells us in Matthew 7:21–23, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”
What a scary scenario. What a horrific mistake to be so confident in your standing before God, to be so religious that you cast out devils, prophesy, speak “in tongues,” and do amazing miracles ALL in the name of Jesus, yet God says of you in the final day, “I never knew you.” The Bible speaks of making SURE of your salvation MORE than it speaks of HOW to know the Lord. MANY will stand before God and argue their doctrine, trying to convince him of their salvation. They are so certain. They were very dedicated, gifted, “anointed,” blessed, and maybe even a preacher or a teacher. Yet God says, “I never knew you.” Somewhere they jumped on board and did all the right things, but they never really knew and loved the Savior.
What I have seen is this: many children go through the steps of salvation and from that moment are sure they are saved, all due to the particular ritual of whatever church their parents are in at that time. They might grow up good kids, but there is not that burning in their soul that just knows and loves Jesus. They might look around at the few kids who are totally in love with Jesus and think of those kids as “Jesus freaks.” More often than not a Jesus freak kid gets in trouble and does dumb stuff, just like all kids. Seeing the Jesus freaks do naughty things helps cancel out the feeling of not being just as good as the Jesus freak kid. It probably makes the rest of the kids in church feel they are more balanced and glad they are not so embarrassingly religious.
Some kids grow up in very religious homes where the parents are always involved in spiritual things, and those kids learn how to “put on an act, smile for the camera, show an interest in worship or gifts” when in their heart they know it is put on. Our churches are overflowing with lost, damned youth and adults, and chances are some of your children are among this number. The sad truth of the matter is that these kids grow up feeling very secure in their relationship with God and become good church members, even deacons and elders of the local church. They might marry a true believer who is really sold out for God and they just join in and do what their spouse is doing. Life goes on, and they just assume they are really saved until that “Great and Terrible Day of the LORD” when they hear those fateful words, “I NEVER knew you: Depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”
So now you know why my thought went to the verse, “Even a child is known by his doings, whether his works be pure and whether they be right.” Ask yourself, were you one of those kids who did the ritual thing of walking the aisle and asking Jesus in your heart and then went your way knowing you had signed on the dotted line, so you must be saved?
What is the difference between a true believer and one who assumes they know the LORD? Is it works? Well, good works don’t seem to help, because the folks God said he never knew were busy casting out devils and doing many wonderful works.
The difference is in the heart, the relationship, the loving and desiring just to know HIM. A true relationship with Jesus is all-consuming. It directs your life, your feelings, your style, your drive, and your actions.
We all know the story of King David, the one God says is a man “after my own heart.” He is so beloved and KNOWN of God that in the Millennium it is King David who sits upon the throne to judge the nations. Yet, we all also know of King David’s sins. Yet, sin was not the course of his life. His fall was a quick, dreadful mistake, which he suffered horribly for all his life. Pretending was not his style. Hiding or excusing was not part of how he did things. Repentance was complete.
What we can learn from David is what it means to really love the eternal God. It doesn’t make us perfect, and it doesn’t mean our lives are going to turn out wonderful. It does mean that from the moment we come to KNOW the LORD and HE knows us, we are different.
Did you read that sentence? There is a clear difference in who we are, how we think, what interests us, how we seek to please him, and how much we fear God. All people, young or old, who come to know the LORD are NEW CREATURES and stay consumed with Jesus. Our minds are drawn back to him over and over, we love his Word, and we are concerned about others who do not know him.
The Psalms depict David’s heart toward God. Psalm 51 shows David’s repentance toward God. Psalms 47 and 48 are songs of pure praise and thankfulness. Psalm 59, as well as many other Psalms, speaks of how David turns to God for help in his times of trouble, which were many. David gives honor to the words of God in Psalm 119, which is the longest Psalm. David’s heart is made manifest as he worships the King of kings.
Do you worship the King of kings? I am not talking about having your emotions stirred in a big congregation with moving music; I ask, does your soul magnify the LORD? Do you walk in the light as he is in the Light?
If this is my last day on earth, my last article, my last word to you, then know it is time: “Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall” (2 Peter 1:10).
“Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?” (2 Corinthians 13:5)
These videos are important if you want to make SURE of your standing before God:
Sin Robe: ngj.org/mike-sin-robe
The Full Gospel: ngj.org/full-gospel
Walking After the Spirit: ngj.org/walk-spirit
Saving Righteousness: ngj.org/saving-righteousness
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Your article, Debi, "If this were my last article . . ." has had a tremendous impact on me. It is so powerful and so heartbreaking, because we know how much truth there is in it about the state of the "Christians" in our churches. May I share this with others, really want those in our church to read this and rethink what they are doing in training up our children and making sure the people are truly saved? I grew up in the church, I know that I was not saved for many many years. Thank you so much for writing this, for being so blunt, for sounding this wake-up call! God bless your ministry, Anne Graff