There are many
who have varying interpretations on just what being “saved” means. To one person it is being a Church member
and going sometimes when it is convenient. To another it is involvement in a “church club” that gives them
assurance and a sense of community. But to the true Christian, it is more of a personal relationship with God, that
leads them to “serving” God. No matter your understanding, Jesus told Nicodemus that you must be “born again”! Just what that means cannot be understood unless you are born
again. In other words, you must experience salvation before you can understand salvation! There are various people
described in the Bible that show two differing ideas of believing and following God. In the Old Testament, the journey
of Saul and David shows us two people who were called of God. Both men were drawn away from God by their power and allowed
that to cloud their minds from God’s direction. The point to make of this is that Saul would not come back to
God and repent; while David immediately did so upon recognition.
Another example of this is the difference
between Peter and Judas. Judas never sought forgiveness for his betrayal, while Peter immediately pursued forgiveness.
Just what is the difference in the concept of being saved and religious? How do we make sure we are “saved”?
Christians today have varying answers, according to whomever they are listening to. What does the Bible say about the
difference between these two sets of examples, and its impact on us? Keep in mind that the Pharisees thought they were
righteous also! Do we as Christians use a “vail of righteousness” when we need it and live differing lives
otherwise? This is the real problem—we are not qualified to judge anyone but ourselves. However, in Matthew
7:20 Jesus tells us, “by their fruit, you will know them”.
We can examine lives by the fruit produced; and just what does it mean by fruit?
We must serve God and produce
fruit in order for us to realize our full potential. This leads us to the parable of the “Sower”.
“Behold, a sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell by the wayside;
and the birds came and devoured them. Some fell on stony places, where they did not have much earth; and they
immediately sprang up because they had no depth of earth. But when the sun was up they were scorched, and because they
had no root they withered away. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up and choked them. But
others fell on good ground and yielded a crop: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.” Matthew 13:3-8 This parable tells of four variations in humanity’s life journey.
These four encompass all people and explain the different stages in our relationships with God. If we would just examine
our lives in comparison to these—with the ultimate comparison being fruitful. Always remember the term “fruitful”!
The first falls by the wayside. This is an indication that there is no real attempt to understand and the Word is snatched
away immediately. By snatched, we have no preparations to hear the Word and are ill-prepared to understand. Thus,
these people find themselves “rejecting before experiencing”. We recognize these people as never
experiencing God in any way and are lost! The second on this list of four is those where the Word falls on stony ground,
thus symbolizing it is received. When it is heard, they seemingly embrace the Word, but it is so shallow that they have
no real understanding either. There must be depth, for when bad things happen, we must depend upon God. To these
people, there is no foundation of “Grace” in their lives and they soon fall away to the pressures of the world.
These people never embrace the depth of God’s love. They look good for a while and seem interested, or even embrace
the Church, but they have no true connection with God. These never truly embrace God and thus are not saved. We
see the difference in being lost or saved here—these never invite God into their lives. These “experience
but then reject” the gift of God.
The third example is where the Word falls among
thorns. This is controversial to many teachers and Preachers, but our interpretation is that these are saved.
They have no fruit, but do embrace Jesus as their Savior. Many would say these are not saved because they have no fruit,
however, we believe that there are many to most Christians today are of this type. These embrace Christianity and for
a time show great potential and love for their Savior, but the cares of the world start pulling at them. They soon fall
to the enticements of the world and tumble from their “first love”. They are so entangled that they cannot
even recognize their impending distance from God. David by his prosperity and Peter by his fear, both show this pressure
to pull away from God. These bear little fruit and thus “live defeated lives”.
The last of these examples is, of course, the person who embraces and bears fruit. We find it curious that there are
distinctions in this example; some thirty, some sixty and some one hundred-fold! This is the only one that truly explains
a close personal relationship with God and is the fruit bearer. The person that loves God by serving others, bears much
fruit! We find people have difficulty distinguishing which of these they are—or they don’t really want to
know. Are we living a “semblance” of a Christian life? Are we truly running after the life God would
have us to live? So, let each one examine themselves to see if their lives are an example of the follower of God—fruitful.