"I always thought Hilda was a Christian."
"So did I. She did so much for the church."
I overheard that conversation about a long-time member of a church. The woman in question had given all she had to the church, both financially and through ministry participation. Her parents had been founders of the church where she worshipped. She had been a part of it since earliest childhood. From all appearances, she was a wonderful Christian.
But in reality, Hilda had never accepted the Lord Jesus as her Savior. The old adage "You can't judge a book by its cover" came to mind. She was worshipping in form, not in belief. Her good works were part of the sham. There were hidden motives, of which perhaps she was not even aware. Whatever the reason, she had not made the vital step that would ensure her salvation.
Many confuse good works with salvation. Good works will come from a heart overflowing with the Lord, but they do not ensure a relationship with God. Hilda may have fooled others, and she may have even fooled herself, but she did not fool God. It is not enough to be good or to do good, for even one's best will never meet God's standards.
Ephesians 2:8-9 says, "It is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God--not by works, so that no one can boast" (NIV).
It is easy to forget the essentials when one is constantly in a church setting, but growing up in a church can never take the place of a true relationship with Christ. It doesn't matter how pious one is, how many committees one has served on, how much time or money one gives to the church, or how many mission trips one went on. None of it counts, unless the relationship with Christ is right. It doesn't matter how long one has been a church member if salvation has not taken place within the individual.
God wants a relationship with every person. He wants to give His love, His Spirit, and His gifts to those who turn to Him. He alone knows the depths of our hearts and the motives behind our actions. It may be easy to fool others or even ourselves, but we can never fool God.
Just a simple belief that Jesus died for you and rose again, and a prayer of repentance for your sins, is all it takes. Are you right with God? Don't wait until the last minute; come to Him today.
By Crystal J. Ortmann