Get Your Faith Out of the Garage

On February 2, 2013 by Steve Miller

Billy Sunday one of the 20th Centuries most influential evangelists famously quipped, “Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than going to a garage makes you an automobile.”

There are many people today who show their allegiance to a sports team by wearing team jerseys, but we don’t for a moment actually confuse them with playing for the team. Fans wear music groups’ concert shirts, but we would never expect them to take the stage with the band. Cinema buffs even quote movie lines as part of everyday conversation, but they have never themselves appeared on screen.

Unfortunately some in the church today have assumed because they can look the part or repeat the right phrases they have actually joined the team. Rather than what you say or how you appear, what actually makes you a Christian is being transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit. When you put your faith in Christ you are not simply conformed to a way of living but actually being Born Again (John 3:3).

You can wear a cross around your neck, carry a Bible, go to church every week, get baptized, take communion, sing hymns, pray before every meal, and it still won’t make you a Christian. Outward actions are to be the evidence of an inward transformation. Our religious activities follow salvation; they don’t earn or precede it. This is why only Born Again committed and converted Christians should seek membership at a local church.

Church membership should not be confused with salvation. You become a Christian when you put your faith into the redeeming work of Jesus Christ. The validity of your salvation is not determined by belonging or not belonging to a local church structure. There are many people who attend church services but have never asked Christ to save them. It is even possible to accurately understand the principles of Christianity but not choose to serve Christ as Lord. James 2:19 states, “You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.” Church membership does not save anyone; rather we believe it is how believers get “plugged in” to what God is doing on Earth now.

Salvation is not dependent upon something you do at all; rather it is something Jesus does in you. Anyone may attend church (and they should be invited to do so), only those committed to growing as a disciple of Christ, doing the work of God’s Kingdom, serving the rest of the body of believers and being willingly accountable to the church family’s governing principles should seek membership. The Church is structured around the idea Christians desire to draw closer to their Lord and one another, those who embrace this principle will experience a warm, inviting, and challenging atmosphere to grow in. Anyone who views church as primarily a social club or a once a week activity will most likely be frustrated by the idea of living in a Christ centered community with one another. In fact one of the clearest signs you belong in the church is if your faith doesn’t stay there but travels with you wherever you may go.

“…let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:24-25

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