If You Are Outside Of Christ
A 2007 Harris Poll found that 82% of those surveyed believed in God, but it also showed that only 62% believed in the devil. The same poll found that 75% believed in heaven, but only 62% believed in hell. A 2016 poll by Ligonier Ministries and Lifeway Research on 'The State of American Theology' found 'More than half (65 percent) agree that everyone sins a little, but most people are good by nature,' and, 'A large majority (69 percent) disagree with the claim that even the smallest sin deserves eternal damnation.' These polls don't usually ask the question, but if asked, most Americans would self-identify as 'good' and probably going to heaven, too. It seems that our society has come to think that if you just claim to be 'good,' that is all that is needed to be saved and to be assured of eternal life in heaven.
Unfortunately, it seems that the majority of Americans acquire their 'faith' by their personal assemblage of convictions or ideas they have gained from experience or personal philosophy, or is based on purely emotional 'feelings' — but this kind of 'faith' is not drawn from the word of God.
Let's get right to the point: Despite what the majority of Americans believe, salvation is not a matter of one's 'goodness' or personal philosophy or even's one's own opinion. While most people would claim to be 'good,' God's word plainly tells us we have all sinned (Rom. 3:23) and that, in fact, “There is none righteous, no, not one” (Rom. 3:10). Not one of us can claim to be good, much less good enough to get into heaven on our own, or by our own 'goodness.'
These polls also find that many Americans believe one can be saved and not be a Christian; that is, many believe that one does not need to be in Christ to be saved or that it is a prerequisite to eternal life in heaven. Again, this is in spite of what the Scriptures plainly teach. Peter identified Jesus as the world's only Savior, plainly declaring, “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). Jesus Himself said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6). Despite the beliefs of many Americans, salvation is not for whoever claims it.
That salvation is in Jesus alone is clearly taught in Scripture; thus, whoever desires eternal life in heaven must be in Christ. But what if you are not in Christ? Can you really expect to obtain eternal life? Will God bring you into heaven anyway? What do the Scriptures say? What is your true condition if you are not in Christ [i.e., not a Christian]?
You Are Not 'Good.' We have already noted the Scriptures' revelation that none of us is good, but let us make a direct connection to being in Christ as the means to becoming 'good,' or what God calls righteous. Paul reminded the Christians in Corinth that, in Christ, they were “a new creation” (2 Cor. 5:17), but what made that possible, if all were unrighteous before? He goes on to tell them, “He [God] made Him who knew no sin [Christ] to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5:21). In short, the sacrifice of Jesus was the price paid for our sins, and it is now possible for those who are in Christ to be called righteous — good!
The converse of this is, if you are not in Christ, you are not good. My opinion on the matter — and yours — is irrelevant.
You Have No Spiritual Blessings. If you do realize you are guilty of wrongdoing, what God calls sin, then you might be tempted to think, as many do, that you can somehow do a great many good deeds to negate the guilt of your sins. That's not how it works.
God's word tells us, “the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23), and, “without shedding of blood there is no remission” (Heb. 9:22), so a death is necessary to pay the price. We can't offer ourselves as the sacrifice because, as noted earlier, we are guilty of sin'; we would be an unacceptable sacrifice! Thankfully, God sent His Son to die for our sins (cf. 1 Cor. 15:3), but to benefit from that sacrifice, we must be in Christ!
Paul began his letter to the brethren in Ephesus by saying, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ” (Eph. 1:3). Friend, if “every spiritual blessings” is in Christ, that means there are no spiritual blessings outside of Christ! No grace, no mercy, and no forgiveness. If you are outside of Christ, you do not have the benefit of these spiritual blessings!
You Are Condemned. When Paul wrote to the brethren at Rome, he pointed out the sinfulness of the Gentiles of times past (Rom. 1), but also the sinfulness of the Jews, too (Rom. 2). He also pointed out the futility of trying to live a righteous life outside of Christ (Rom. 7), but then notes that it is in Christ one is delivered from the condemnation of sin (cf. Rom. 7:24, 25), plainly stating, “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1).
This is only logical, though, for we have already noted we are all guilty of sin and without His grace, mercy, and forgiveness if we remain outside of Christ. Please understand that if you are outside of Christ, you do not have the benefit of those spiritual blessings God offers to mankind.
You Are Without Hope. The great blessing of God's plan for our salvation is that, despite this sad predicament where all men were guilty of sin, without forgiveness, and condemned, He had a plan to forgive our sins and render us justified and righteous once again! Because of God's mercy, wisdom, and love, we can now have hope! Our hope is eternal life in heaven (1 John 2:25), and it is the very thing for which we live..
But this hope is not just a matter of wishful thinking, as is so often seen in American religion; no, this hope is real because it is based on the promises of the God who does not lie! It is not a hope to whoever claims it but to those, again, in Christ. Paul made this clear when he reminded the Gentile Christians in Ephesus that, before they had obeyed the gospel and had become Christians, they were “without Christ…having no hope and without God in the world” (Eph. 2:12). Please understand if you remain outside of Christ, you have no hope, either!
How Can You Be 'In Christ'? With all this bad news, you might be wondering where the 'good news' of the gospel is! The good news is, you don't have to remain in a state where your sins will be held against you and you have no hope. You can be one who is in Christ if you are willing to do what God says will bring you into Christ!
And what is that? Paul noted that Christians were “baptized into Christ” (Rom. 6:3; Gal. 3:27), and one is “buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God,” and it is then that God does the work of making you “alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses” (Col. 2:12, 13).
Knowing this, why would you remain outside of Christ? — Steven Harper