This is a kind of loaded thing to ponder. What is the fate of those who claim to be Christians, who faithfully attend and serve in a local Christian assembly but who never come to embrace the Truth about salvation?
Will the Almighty overlook their ignorance–or disobedience–and give them credit for their religiosity and zeal?
During my nearly 40 years of pastoring and preaching, I have come across some people who appear to fall into the above category. Note, I said they appear that way. It is certainly not my intent to play the judge of anyone’s relationship with Christ. I just think this is a good theological discussion to have.
So this post is aimed at those who trust in their church attendance record or their service in the ministry or in the house of God, but they are ignorant of the truth about salvation or they know the truth but fail to submit to the same.
Paul’s Burden for Israel’s Ignorance of the Truth about Salvation
In his letter to the saints at Rome, Paul shares his burden for the Israelites. “My heart’s desire and my prayer to God for them is for their salvation,” he writes (Romans 10:1, NASB). So what was the reason for his concern for their salvation? Here are three things or concerns he mentions:
1. “They have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge” (verse 2). This means they were Deeply Religious but ignorant of the truth. I understand this point. In the church of my youth, I don’t remember my pastor ever preaching about salvation. One of the first things he wanted to know when someone united with our congregation was “where do you want to serve?”
As a result, congregants tended to be deeply religious and faithful church attendees, but I believed that too many of them were ignorant of the truth about salvation.
2. “Not knowing about God’s righteousness and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God” (verse 3). The problem with ignorance is that when we don’t know what to do, we do what we know.
Paul and the other apostles met much opposition from the Jews in their day. By and large, they were not receptive to Christ as the Messiah. The Jews continued to seek God their own way. Similarly, some churchgoers today are guilty of a similar errant zeal for God.
Here are a few examples based on my personal observations: Some churchgoers are more loyal to their pastor than they are to Christ; some worship the things they do in the name of the Lord as if they were an idol; and some trust in their self-righteousness.
3. “Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes” (verse 4). This was the problem. This is the overarching truth about salvation. There is but one way to get right with God. That is through faith in His Son Jesus Christ. The Jews sought God by the Law. But as for righteousness, Christ is the end of the Law.
Similarly, some churchgoers today are ignorant of the truth about salvation. Not knowing His way, they seek Him their own way. But church attendance, our works, self-righteousness, faithfully tithing, etc; none of these can make us right with God. We are saved by grace through faith in Christ. “Not of works lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:9).
Copyright © 2020 by Frank King. All rights reserved.