Summary: This message discusses how there are people who attend church claiming faith in Christ simply because they want a ticket to heaven, or because they want their fire insurance; but, they have never truly believed in Jesus as Savior and Lord.

This morning, I am going to talk about the deception of professing Christ as fire insurance and as a ticket to heaven; and so, I’m going to begin with a related illustration. In the December 2001 issue of “Reader’s Digest,” the boxer Muhammed Ali was asked during an interview what his faith meant to him; and he replied as follows:

It means a ticket to heaven. One day we’re all going to die, and God’s going to judge us, our good and bad deeds. If the bad outweighs the good, you go to hell; if the good outweighs the bad, you go to heaven. I’m thinking about the Judgment Day and how you treat people wherever you go. Help somebody through charity, because when you do, it’s been recorded.

I go to parties, see good-looking girls. I take a box of matches with me. I see a girl I want to flirt with, which is a sin, so I light my matches [and touch my finger]; hell hurts worse than this. Buy a box of matches and carry them with you. Put one on your finger and see how long you can hold it. Just imagine that’s going to be hell. Hell’s hotter, and for eternity.(1)

There are actually people who attend church claiming faith in Jesus Christ simply because they want a ticket to heaven, or because they want their fire insurance; however, they have never truly believed in Jesus as their Savior and Lord. They attend church with the motivation of accumulating points for having done a good deed; like Muhammed Ali, who felt that treating people nice, or turning his eyes away from a pretty girl would win him God’s favor.

We are going to learn this morning from the Bible that our motivation tells all. If we proclaim faith in Jesus Christ, but attend church and do good deeds all in order to “earn” God’s approval, then we’re not truly saved; but rather, we are trying to pay for our own fire insurance. Good works must not be done in an attempt to fill our own faith cup; they must be done because we are loved and forgiven, as good deeds and church attendance should be an overflow of our cup that has already been filled by God’s grace. “We love Him because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19), the Scripture says.

Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” If you are someone here today who’s trying to gain God’s acceptance through any other means than by grace through faith – whether it be through church attendance, tithing, or even community service – then you are someone who’s trying to earn your own ticket to heaven. This morning, we’re going to come to understand that the Christian walk is so much more than fire insurance; it’s about having a love relationship with God and His Son, Jesus Christ.

We Are Saved to Do God’s Will (Matthew 7:21-23)

21 Not everyone who says to Me, “Lord, Lord,” shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, “Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?” 23 And then I will declare to them, “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!”

The first thing we read here can be quite troubling: “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven” (v. 21). The first thing we learn is that someone professing, “Lord, Lord,” is not always an indication that the person is a believer; and the reason why is because faith in Jesus Christ is so much more than a verbal claim to be affiliated with His name. Now this is a play on wording; but the hard-hitting question to consider today is this: “Do you really ‘know’ Him, or do you only ‘know of’ Him?”

Let me give you an example. Everyone here knows that Donald Trump is the current president of the United States. If someone were to ask you, “Do you know Donald Trump?” would you respond, “I ‘know’ him,” or “I ‘know of’ him”? If you were being honest, then you would say that you only “know of” him, because you have probably never met the man before in your life. There are many people today claiming to “know” Jesus, talking about His name, who only “know of” Him, for they have never truly met Him in a real and personal way.

Let me ask the question differently: “Do you truly ‘believe’ Him?” Do you really believe that Jesus is who He says He is; or, “Do you only ‘believe in’ Him?” as though He is some fable. There are people who “believe in” Santa Clause, but they wouldn’t trust him with their life.

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