Psalm 19:7 The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.

The Pew Research Center conducted something they call the U.S. Religious Landscape Survey in June of 2008. They questioned just over 19,000 professing Christians across America. Some of the results were as follows: 69% believe God is a personal Being rather than an impersonal force. 83% believe in heaven, 68% believe in hell. 80% believe in life after death, 13% do not. 37% believe the Bible is the word of God and should be taken literally, 30% believe the Bible is the word of God and should not be taken literally, that evidently means 33% don't believe the Bible is the word of God. 67% believe there's more than one true way of understanding the Bible, only 28% believe there's only one true way. 69% believe other religions can provide entry into heaven, only 25% believe Christianity alone provides salvation. 44% believe homosexuality should be accepted and 45% believe abortion should be allowed in most cases. Such percentages should tell us we have a big problem in America within Christianity and seeing people truly converted to Christ. In 2000 a Christian denomination recorded around 280,000 professions of faith worldwide. Out of the 280,000 only 14,000 were attending church in 2001, that's 5%. Some good news is that Answers in Genesis reports that people in America born between the early 1980's and the early 2000's are largely biblically illiterate. The reason I think that's good news is because it could be possible, with God's help, to persuade them to view the Bible as the word of God, but we're going to have to prove that to them.

The actual number of truly saved people in America is most likely very small. Of the 19,000 Christians surveyed only 25% believe only Christianity offers real salvation. If we assume the 25% fall within the 37% who believe the Bible is the word of God and should be taken literally we would then have a group of people from which probably only a percentage would actually be saved people. So, of 19,000 professing Christians about 4,750 believe the Bible is the word of God, should be taken literally and only Christianity offers real salvation. So some percentage of the 4,750 are truly saved people, we just don't know how many. What this all means is of professing Christians in America only 25% have beliefs that line up with scripture enough to suppose they could be saved. It's likely all of them are not.

There can be no doubt we have a real problem in our culture within Christianity and seeing people truly converted to Christ. It's possible most of the problem lies in the way Christians are presenting God and His way of salvation to others. Consider the early church, Acts 5:12-16 And by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people; (and they were all with one accord in Solomon’s porch. And of the rest durst no man join himself to them: but the people magnified them. And believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women.) Insomuch that they brought forth the sick into the streets, and laid them on beds and couches, that at the least the shadow of Peter passing by might overshadow some of them. It seems people from the early church gave such a miraculous witness of who Jesus is and what He could do that no one thought of joining themselves to the church without being truly converted unto Christ. That type of witness largely doesn't exist today. There's so few that have it they are easily branded fanatics and overlooked. We don't need to bring back apostolic miracles, we just need Spirit filled, obedient Christians under the influence of God, bearing the fruit of the Spirit, preaching the sinfulness of man, sharing the good news of Jesus Christ.

It would be much better if we had a very small number of professing Christians in our culture who were actually saved rather than having a large number who have only a religion. The latter poses the greatest challenge because religion is the greatest obstacle of real conversion to Christ. Religion was responsible for the crucifixion of Jesus and modern day Christianity in America is no different, it has the effect of suppressing the truth by distorting it. Jesus said to the religious leaders of His day, “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do” (John 8:44).

So, what can we do about this problem? The short answer is rather than just offering people a way of salvation or just a different belief system offer them a living Savior instead. Jesus said in John 5:39-40 Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life. John wrote in 1 John 5:12 He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. We need people with a message who are a living testimony that Jesus saves. He saves minds, He saves hearts, He saves from confusion, from error, from bad decisions, from worry, from unhappiness, from hopelessness, from anxiety, from depression and from hell. We need to present the gospel with a way of living that has been truly altered by Christ. We have a culture that's looking for the answers through politics, wealth, medicine, physical fitness, psychology, psychiatry, religion, drugs and alcohol, but only the Creator has real answers.

How did Jesus and His apostles present the Gospel? Mark 1:14-15 Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel. Real salvation, real conversion, real change is not possible without repentance. To repent means to think differently, to have a change of mind, to reconsider. People don't repent until they see a need to. Jesus and His apostles presented a message and a picture (by picture I mean a witness). An acceptance of one or the other doesn't require repentance, but both together demand it!

Someone once said a picture is worth a thousand words. Someone else said seeing is believing. I'm not in any way discounting or making light of the necessity of faith by sharing such statements. I'm trying to stress the importance of a witness to go with the message. Heb 2:3-4 How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him; God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will? What causes people to understand there's no escape without God's salvation is God bearing witness with the message through what can be seen. In the days of the apostles it was signs, wonders and miracles. In our day it's primarily gifts of the Holy Ghost, specifically the fruit of the Spirit. Without miracles the message is just another idea. Without the message the miracles are just another sensation that draws attention to things that can't save. Separately they allow religion without relationship, together they demand repentance and a living relationship with Jesus Christ. First, let's look at the message.

19:7 The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul – Salvation requires a person knowing they need to be saved. Rom 5:13 ...until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law. We have to be told we're sinners, we won't come to that conclusion on our own. The only reason there's any sense of right and wrong in the world is because of the influence of our Creator. Rom 3:19-20 Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin. All are under God's law because the earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein (Psalm 24:1). The law was given us for the primary purpose of showing us our rebellion against the Creator. There's no possibility of real conversion without the knowledge of sin, but that's only part of the message. 1 Cor 15:1-4 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; by which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures... The glorious part of the message is we have a Creator Who came into this world as one of us and offered Himself a sacrifice to save us from our rebellion against Him. His redemptive work is so perfect, so complete that it's eternal, it's forever. That's a wonderful message, but without a witness (a picture) it's just another idea. Now let's look at the witness.

the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple – Testimony here means witness. The Hebrew word translated simple is also translated foolish elsewhere. So, the witness of the LORD is sure, making wise the foolish. Ps 14:1 The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. The atheist needs a witness. You can't convince him with words alone you're going to have to show him he's wrong. Jesus said in Matt 15:8 This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. The religious need a witness. You're not going to convince them they're wrong with just words, you're going to have to show them. Rom 1:21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. The deceived need a witness. You'll never prove to them with words alone they are deceived, you're going to have to show them. Again I say, we don't need to bring back apostolic miracles for a witness, we just need Spirit filled, obedient Christians under the influence of God, bearing the fruit of the Spirit, preaching the sinfulness of man, sharing the good news of Jesus Christ.

The fruit of the Spirit as a witness: Gal 5:22-26 ...the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another. We don't need to just explain love we need to do it, we don't need to just explain joy we need to have it, we don't need to just explain peace we need to be at rest in God, we don't need to just explain patience we need to show it, we don't need to just explain kindness we need to be kind, we don't need to just explain goodness we need to be good, we don't need to just explain faith we need to trust God, we don't need to just explain humility and submission we need to show it, we don't need to just explain Holy Spirit control we need to be intoxicated with God. The fruit of the Spirit is a miracle, but miracles without the right message are just another sensation that draws attention to things that can never save.

We live in a culture that's failing, a culture where only a small percentage of professing Christians really know God. The good news is the law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. I can't and won't, tell you as an individual, what you need to do, but God can and will if you give Him the opportunity. What ever you need to do, now is the time to do it.