Published January 12, 2016

Paul's Epistle

What did Jesus mean when He said that "not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven..." (Matt. 7:21)?

Someone once observed that the pews of modern churches are filled with people who call Jesus "Lord" – but who never have actually become Christians. They have never truly called upon the Lord to forgive their sins and to become, in actual fact, Lord of their lives. They are simply "playing church," for whatever reason.

For whatever reason, they are simply pretending to be Christians. They are like those chided by the Lord through the prophet Isaiah when He said, "...these people draw near with their mouths and honor Me with their lips, but have removed their hearts far from Me..." (Is. 29:13).

Perhaps they haven't decided not fully to accept the Lord. They just haven't made any decision one way or the other. But, in this case, no decision at all really is a decision. Accepting the Lord is a definitive, volitional action on the part of an individual. And failure to do so has eternal significance. For all of eternity, it's the difference, quite frankly, between heaven and hell.

Case in point:

Josh Feemster is the new tenor for Legacy Five. He grew up in a home where his mom and dad sang Gospel music, traveling throughout Alabama and beyond. Years ago, Josh sang with Mercy's Mark. And for the past eight years or so has been a church music leader.

But, as Josh unashamedly testifies now whenever he can, something happened to him last July that changed his life. Here's how he tells it:

"When I was nine years old, I went down to the altar and ... I don't remember praying. I went down to the altar and ended up joining the church, being baptized. [But] then this past summer at my home church, we had Bailey Smith in [to preach]. Bailey's been ... a very popular Baptist preacher... He came and preached his ‘Wheat And Tares' message. And it became very clear to me that what I had done a long time ago was... I had done the steps, but I never asked Jesus truly into my heart. So that Sunday in July – July the 26th – while leading the invitation on stage, I surrendered my life to Christ."

Josh says it became clear to him this was something he needed to clear up. "It's not that I was living a bad life or an immoral life. I wasn't. I was a very moral guy. My wife tells the story that she would have never believed that she was married to an unsaved person." So, even the person who knows Josh the best in this life didn't realize it.

Unfortunately, this is more common than any of us would wish or even suspect. As Josh says, "I have a feeling, Paul, that there's so many church people that are in the same situation that I was in. And that breaks my heart. Because you can do all the things that you [should do to appear to be a Christian]. But you have to ask Him to come into your life. And I had never done that. And [since doing it], it's just been amazing how my heart has been opened, my eyes have been opened to so many things that I never realized before."

Three decades ago, Brian Free – already singing at the time with Gold City – had a similar experience. And ever since, he's become one of Gospel music's most outspoken preachers of the true Gospel – through word and song.

People falsely pretending to be Christians – whether aware or unaware of what they're doing – might fool those around them. But they can't fool God. "The Lord does not see as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart" (1 Sam. 16:7).

Consider:  Even if you're saying, "Lord, Lord," and by all outward appearances you are a Christian, have you, indeed, fully accepted Christ as Savior and Lord of your life?

Or ... are you pretending?

- Paul

PS: If you have a testimony similar to Josh's, I'd love to hear it.

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