From Kay Meyer's column in the St. Louis Metro Voice newspaper from 1994 to 2013.
Paul is a good husband and father. He has attended church with his wife, Joanne, almost every Sunday for 28 years. But Paul does not believe in Christ. Close family members and friends know of his unbelief, but most members of his congregation would never suspect he does not have faith in Christ. Do you know Paul? Could he be attending your congregation?
Jesus is head of the Body of Christ (Col. 1:19) and the true church is invisible. Be aware that many who attend church regularly do not have faith in Christ.
Unbelievers attend church for a myriad of reasons. Many believe that attending church makes them a Christian. Some attend church because it’s a habit. Some attend because it’s good for business. Thousands attend and believe they are Christians. They have knowledge about the Word of God, know facts about Jesus Christ, but do not a personal relationship with Him. Millions think they are Christians because they live a relatively good life! They believe they need to earn God’s favor by their good works.
Could the greatest mission field be inside our churches? What do you think? How do you share your faith with those inside your church?
Questions are a tool to use in witnessing. Ask questions to clarify in whom they are trusting. Are they trusting in the finished work of Jesus Christ or their own good works? Eph. 2:8-9 states, “For 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 not one can boast.” Here is one of the critical issues that must be discussed. There is a great confusion about this, even within the Body of Christ. The Bible clearly teaches faith in Christ alone saves us.
Verse 10 continues, “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Will we do good works? YES! We will do good works, but these works come after we have a saving faith. When we have a saving faith then we are born again. Being born again means we have eternal life! The Bible states we have passed from death to life! “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him Who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment but has passed out of death into life.” (John 5:24) The good works we do are out of love for God and what He already did for us.
But how do we tell the difference between babes in Christ and the unsaved within our churches? Sometimes we may think someone is not a Christian, but, in fact, is a babe in Christ. Just as babies (or infants) only think of themselves, babes in Christ often do not demonstrate attributes of a Christian. Maybe that’s why the Bible encourages the strong or mature in faith to help the weak. (Rom. 14:1)
Babes in Christ need encouragement and support, not condemnation. As Christians we should fan the flames of faith of those who are weak or still babies in faith. Unfortunately, most mature Christians do the opposite. They attack the weak and offer little encouragement or spiritual support.
“And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as men of flesh, as to babes in Christ. I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able, for you are still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men? (1 Cor. 3:1-4) In verse 11 Paul continues, “For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.”
The Bile also tells us that babes in Christ can be more easily lead astray by false teachings and false gospels. “Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ.” (Eph. 4:14)
Whether they are unbelievers or babes in Christ, they need your encouragement and support. Pray regularly for them. Listen to their needs. Be a friend. Share the Law and Gospel. Most importantly, encourage them to get into the Word of God. Tell them about good books, videos, and other sources available in your church library. Invite them to attend a church, home, or office Bible study with you. Encourage them to listen to Christian radio programs that will help them grow and learn more about the saving Gospel message and God’s Word. Remember God’s Word says, “You have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and abiding Word of God.” (1 Peter 1:23)
by Kay L. Meyer