Mike Ruffin

Mike Ruffin is a former county manager, including in Cabarrus County, and a minister.

“For there is no respect of persons with God.”  (Romans 2:11)

A pastor of mine made an observation several years ago that bothered me. 

He remarked that an alarming percentage of people who attend church are not saved.  As I looked around, I realized that God’s the only one who can really tell the difference.

Jesus said, “Ye shall know them by their fruits.”  (Matthew 7:16)  But it’s hard to tell sometimes because “religion” can fool you. 

The fact is some people attend church out of custom or habit.  Their presence in the pews has nothing to do with whether they are saved or not.  Going to church is a matter of religion for them and even though they think the fact that they show up will earn them a ticket to heaven, unless and until they accept Jesus Christ, all they are really going to get in return is a one-way ticket to hell.

I ran across a Christian website recently that dealt with the difference between religion and salvation.  The author, a Texan by the name of Andy Neckar, put it this way:  “Men and women are willing to believe in the moral precepts of God’s Word, as based on the Ten Commandments, while refusing to believe in, rest on, and receive God’s Son as Savior to their souls.”

He’s right.  The Bible says that there is only one sure way to heaven.  “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.”  (Acts 4:12)

Scripture is clear: God has no use for religion.  Consider these observations that I gleaned from Neckar’s website, all of which are supported by God’s Word:

“RELIGION is what man does for God; SALVATION is what God does for man.” Isaiah 53:6 reminds us, “All we like sheep have gone astray. We have turned everyone to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him (Christ) the iniquity of us all.”

“RELIGION clothes us with the robes of our own righteousness and God tells us in Isaiah that our righteousness are as filthy rags.  SALVATION clothes us in the perfect righteousness of Christ, which alone can make us acceptable in the sight of God.”  Titus 3:5 warns, “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us.”

“RELIGION depends on our behaving; SALVATION depends on our believing.”  That’s why Acts 16:31 says, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.” 

“RELIGION depends on the sufficiency of character; SALVATION depends on the Sacrifice of the Cross.”  “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.”  (1 Corinthians 1:18)

RELIGION says we must be found in God’s house; SALVATION says must ‘be found in him (Christ), not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith’.”  (Philippians 3:9)

“RELIGION tries to bring us from darkness to light; SALVATION…brings us from death into life.”  Jesus said it this way:  “He that heareth my word, and believeth on Him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.”  (John 5:24)

When the altar is opened at your church on Sunday, ask God to convict those who think they are saved, but are not.  Ask him to give them the strength and courage to heed his call.  And if you feel him knocking on the door of your heart, for your own sake, ask him to come in.  Remember, “God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.  He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.”  (1 John 5:11-12)

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