Being Religious Can’t Save You

Our church and youth group exist within a very conservative small town in southern Minnesota. For the most part the town is made up of people who still think family values, serving the community, being a good person, and going to church are important. All of these things are good and we would desire each person in our church to want to do the same, but there is a danger.
The danger is that this kind of community can begin to think that they are Christians just because they are good, moral, and go to church.

But the truth is these things don’t make you a Christian and can’t save you.

Jesus says in John 3:16, which is one of the most famous Bible verses:
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
Jesus is driving at a couple things here. One, that being a Christian and having eternal life is all about Jesus, and in particular it is all about what we believe about Jesus.
This means Christianity first and foremost is not about going to church, taking communion, being baptized, or even being a good person. All of these things are good and we should do them, but they do not save you, nor do they make you a Christian.

I repeat, they do not save you, nor do they make you a Christian.

Christianity and spending our eternity with Jesus hinges on what we believe to be true about Jesus. We must believe that he is God, the only son of God. That he was also fully man on earth and that he lived the perfect life that we couldn’t. We must believe that he died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins, and that he rose again three days later, defeated death, and now is with the Father in heaven until the day he returns.
Now you might say, “well, I believe in Jesus.” But the question is, do you believe in Jesus the way he calls you to believe in him?
Jesus says in Matthew 11:28-30:
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Jesus’ words are calling us to more than an intellectual affirmation of who he is. Instead, he is calling each person to come, put their hope and trust in him, and to follow him. This means that believe implies that we will now trust and follow Jesus.

If you say you believe Jesus than you will naturally trust him and do what he says.

Now are we saved because we do things for Jesus? No. But a real belief in Jesus, one that puts our full hope in his finished work on the cross, means that we will also follow him and do what he says.
So let’s not believe that we are Christians just because we are good, go to church, take communion or are baptized. But let’s ask ourselves the all important questions. Do I really believe and trust in what Jesus did for me on the cross? Am I willing to come to him? Do I desire to follow him and live for him?
And if we are willing to radically put our full trust and hope in Jesus alone he tells us that we will find real and everlasting life and rest for our souls.

So stop being religious and come to Jesus, believe him, and find everlasting life and rest.