A Missionary’s Plea: Don’t Play the Church Game

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Category: Testimonies

There are many people going to church, but many people not going to heaven. They have enough religion to play the game.

[Keith Green: If people can’t tell that you’re changed, you’re not. If people can’t see that you’re born again, you’re probably not. If your mother doesn’t know that Jesus lives inside of you, she’s probably knows better than anybody.]

Trevor: There’s a clean way to hell and there’s a dirty way to hell. But it’s the same destination. And there is a religious way to hell. There is a form of godliness, but lacks the power. And the American church is infected with it. My name is Trevor Johnson. The Lord has called me. He has saved me. And I serve a remote tribal group in Indonesia. And I want to tell you, the Lord has saved me, and He has saved me for service. And if the Lord has saved you, He has saved you for service as well. Christianity is not an add-on to your normal course of life. It is something that changes the entire course of your life. There is no other Christianity besides a radical Christianity. The purpose of this testimony is to show you that me as a missionary, I am not some second-tier Christian that is abnormal for the Christian life. I am very ordinary, but we worship a God that is extraordinary. We worship a God that delights to use weak vessels, and so I’m going to give you my personal testimony and I want you to look at your own life and to see if you’re playing the religious game or if you’re grabbing onto the logic of faith; the logic of faith that says that we are to be propulsive, if we receive the grace of God, we will want to give it out. If you don’t love other people for the Gospel, the love of Christ does not abide in you. And so I want to give you my personal testimony – how I was saved and what salvation means. I was indoctrinated with naturalism in the public school. We were taught that we were products of evolution. We were taught that all things were just the products of natural causes; that I am just atoms, that atoms in the void are the only things in existence. But why is it that I love? Why is it that I believe in immaterial things such as honor, such as love? Those things are non-material, and yet I know that those things exist. The worldview that we’re being taught has no answers. It gives us no hope. It takes us to despair. It makes Nazi Germany not evil, just inconvenient to a certain segment of the population. But I saw, I knew that there was real evil in the world. And seeing the real evil in the world, there had to be a perfect, good reference point, so that I knew what evil was. I knew that there was evil. I knew that there was good. My conscience spoke to me. I knew that there was a God, but I did not know where to turn. I turned to the American churches, and I was sorely betrayed. I sought the truth of Christ in the American churches, and I was sorely disappointed. I heard about the wealth and prosperity gospel, I heard about the seven vials and seven trumpets, the sensational “left my mind” theology, but I did not hear about the Gospel of Christ. I was searching for the truth, but I was sorely disappointed. Many of the pastors I went to did not know the truth. And I want to beg you that if you are seeking the truth, don’t be content to stay in a sick church. Don’t be content to stay in a church that is not preaching the Gospel – that mankind is totally lost, that we are saved totally by grace, that the Lord Jesus Christ is Lord of all. Don’t be content to stay in a place; don’t be content for a form of religiosity that lacks any power. Don’t be content to be caught up in all the trappings of religion, but miss Christ. I had a preacher tell me it’s as simple as choosing: do you want to go to heaven or do you want to go to hell? What idiot wouldn’t choose heaven? But the choice is not heaven or hell, the choice is the beauty of Christ or your sin. And I would pray like Saint Augustine would, “Lord, make me pure, but not yet.” “Lord, make me chaste, but not yet.”

So the choice is not just a simple choice between heaven or hell, it’s, do you see Christ as lovely? Do you see Christ as all glorious? Do you see the beauty of the Gospel and the beauty of Christ? Do you see your own unworthiness? It’s not a choice between heaven or hell. It’s a choice between Jesus Christ and everything else that competes. Jesus Christ and your sin. Jesus Christ and all other competing interests. We must live for Christ. We must die for Christ. And everything in our life is to glorify Christ because He has died for us. He has given Himself for us. And we can’t even give Him more than an hour or two on a Sunday morning for His service. And even then, we think that we have merited ourselves before God because of that. We think that by our performance we have attained to some standard of acceptability before God. But even our righteousness is filthy rags. There’s enough sin in our prayers to condemn us to hell. And yet, God is pleased to hear me because I’m His child. He has given me the new birth. God is pleased to hear me because He is my Father and He’s accepted me for Christ’s sake. And God has been pleased to put me into service. And it’s a joy that I’d be able to follow Him, that I’d be able to serve Him, that I’d be able to suffer for Him. And I want to see others be adopted into the family of God as well. And I worship a God that delights to save. He delighted to save me. And He will delight to save some from every tongue, tribe, and nation. There is nobody too bad for God. There is nobody too unworthy to be saved. There is nobody that has blown it. While there is still time, there is still hope. While there is still life, there is hope of salvation. And if the Lord Jesus Christ has saved you, He has saved you to become a blessing. He has blessed you to be a blessing. He has saved you for service. And if He can use someone such as me; if He can use someone that stumbles so very often, a very average person, He can use you in His service as well. He can use you to glorify His mercy. He can use you as a vessel of mercy. And my hope is that when people see my life, my hope is that when people see me, they see that God has abundantly poured out His grace upon me. That it is not due to anything within myself, but only to the grace of God. And I am a walking example of the mercy of God. A light in this lost and fallen world. And my desire is to minister that light, is to show that light to others. And I praise God that He has been able to do that, even despite my weakness. Come share in these joys with me. Come share in the joy of service. If I fail in everything else in this testimony, the two key points I want to tell you is this: that I am not second-tier Christian. I am very imperfect in many ways. I trust that the Lord will perfect me once I die, and I will go to that place where the spirits of just men are made perfect. But I abide here below as a very weak creature, but the Lord is pleased to use me anyway. And one thing I want to tell you is the Lord is pleased to use weak vessels because there are no other kind. The Lord is pleased to pour out the gold of His grace through vessels of clay. And I have seen the Lord work. And I rejoice that He can even use me, and He delights to use me. And the other thing I want to make crystal clear is that religion does not equate to salvation. I want to make sure you know that.

Don’t play the church game. Don’t be content to do religious rites, to do religious activities. Get saved. Believe the Gospel. Trust in Christ. You have nothing to merit you before God. You are totally unworthy, even your repentance and faith can be turned into a works-based salvation; trying to measure some sort of level of acceptability for your works towards God. There is nothing that you can do to merit yourself before Christ. Trust in the grace of Christ. Don’t trust in your religious rites or activities. It’s not so much religion that saves, it’s the relationship with Jesus Christ. We are adopted into the family of God. I am made right because of my relationship with Jesus Christ. It’s not some set of doctrines that I believe in. It is a relationship. I am a son of God. God is my Father. I have been adopted. My identity is a child of God. God has birthed me. God will keep me. God will never disown me. And God will bring me to maturity. And I desire to walk in the footsteps of my Father. I desire to honor my Father by service, not so that I can be inducted into His family, but because I am and because I want to live in the manner that my Father has taught me. So if you are a child of God, rest in that identity. Don’t get caught up in works-based religious rites, in activities, in the circle of busyness that so often happens, that so often becomes a substitute for the Gospel in our churches. But rest in Christ and in all of your life, seek to glorify Him. If you’re just a member of a church and you think that that commends you to God, allow me to shake you up. Allow me to make you uncomfortable. Forgive me if I sound negative. But don’t let your works substitute for the Gospel. I’ve seen it happen in churches. These churches inoculated me against the Gospel. These churches were an immunization against Christ. And I had enough church to ease my conscience. I was desensitized to the Gospel. I began to think that because I wasn’t as bad as somebody else, I wasn’t bad before God. But this is not a comparison. God’s bar is perfect. And we all fall short. I love Christ and I want to see my Jesus proclaimed into every nation of the world. Because He has been good to me.

[Keith Green: Sure, there’s people that go to the ends of the earth that aren’t Christian. Like the Mormon church sends their young people for two years out of their lives to the mission field. Every single Mormon youngster goes for two years to the mission field. How come we can’t even match that? How come we can’t send our young people for six months? How comes it’s a special breed? But you’re going, “Keith, what about the lost in America?” What about the lost in America? Hey, don’t worry. If God makes it clear to you to go, which I think He already has to many of you this weekend, there’ll always be enough people who won’t obey the call to stay around and witness here. Don’t worry. You’re going, “But Keith, I need to keep my secular job and keep sending my $50 a month to World Vision. If I don’t, who will?” Don’t worry. There’ll always be enough people around that won’t obey the call that will send a check rather than their bodies as living sacrifices. There will always be enough people. I’m not saying everybody who doesn’t go is disobedient. I’m just saying about 99.99% are. That’s what I believe. I’ve seen the world, folks. And I’ve seen that it’s lost and there’s billions of people out there that don’t know God. Now either it’s His fault or ours.]

Trevor: If God is calling you, God will nurture godly desires, so I say be ambitious for the Lord. I say set spiritual goals. Set spiritual ambitions and pray, be bold in what you want to do for the Lord. Don’t be timid. Be bold. Be aggressive in what you want to achieve by God’s grace. Don’t let the devil steal away your boldness. Be bold. The Kingdom of Heaven suffers violence and the violent take it by force. Just don’t give a 50%. Go all out for the Gospel. Go all out for the Lord. Be radical in your commitment. When Hernando Cortez, he came to the New World, he burned all of the ships behind him before he marched forward. Christians ought to burn all their ships behind them. There should be nothing left behind. We should not flee Sodom and look back. Once we put our hands to the plow, we go forward. We are ready to die in the line of service. I fear failure more than I fear sickness or death. Average people who serve an extraordinary God, the Lord can bless their labor. Not because of us, but because of the grace of God. Please pray for Trevor and his family as they press on for Christ overseas. There is much sickness and always many unexpected trials.