The Pastor\’s Pen

An Independent Baptist Preacher\’s Musings and Observations

If You’re Real

Posted by Pastor Szekely on March 15, 2008

This evening I listened to a young, college man earnestly and passionately give his salvation testimony to a bunch of young people – in our town’s public school gymnasium. Now, I do not want to sound critical on this, and I do want to say that this young man who gave his testimony sounded like he believed he was delivered from the penalty of sin through trusting in the shed Blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.

But what got my attention was this statement he made when he was talking about coming to Christ, “Dear God, if You’re real, then please take control of my heart“. [I won’t get into the whole ‘praying-a-prayer’ issue here since this has been recently covered] Now maybe he was using the statement “if You’re real” for effect — or maybe, he made this statement because this is the way he believed when he came to Christ.

I was sitting there listening to all this, and the first thing that came to my mind was, “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” Hebrews 11:6.

Does anyone else have a problem with the statement, “If You’re real“, when used in context of a soul coming to salvation in the Lord Jesus Christ? Does anyone else see that phraseology like this could be a problem?

After some thought on this, many more verses can be quoted to show that if a soul will be saved, that soul must believe on the Lord Jesus Christ for who HE IS and for what He said He could do. How can a person – and why would a person – even come to Christ for salvation if that person really wasn’t sure that the Bible is the Truth and that Jesus is real? Some may call it “fire insurance” where someone gets another to “pray a prayer” even though that praying recipient really isn’t sure he actually needs, wants, or believes in Jesus. [Oh, and by the way – I’ve heard of accounts from reputable brethren of this very thing happening with some zealous and ‘well-intending’ men on visitations]

Doesn’t a person have to believe that Jesus IS before that person can even get saved by Jesus? Now I know that may sound funny, and I’m not trying to be…but how can a guy trust in Christ to be saved by having the attitude, “God, if You’re real…“?

I’d love to hear your input on this! Do you share in my concern, or do you think I’m just looking at a statement too critically?

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19 Responses to “If You’re Real”

  1. ben carroll said

    well just reading this comment, and blindly commenting on it. I would just like to say first, I agree on it’s not the prayer that saves a person. I believe that a person that walks down the aisle, or to the stage at a youth rally, has already became a child of God. For God knows our thoughts, and God knows before that very person does, that they are going to choose Christ. I also don’t like the wording “God, if you are real”, but I still think they meant what they said, and that they choose to believe in God. I guess what I mean is that, this guy said “God if you are real”, but ask yourself did you have all the answers when you were saved? No, thats what is meant by being babes in Christ, and being fed off of milk, and studying to be a meat and potatoes kind of christian. I think people can nit-pick lots of things, and I think thats why the Gospel of Jesus Christ, is so confusing to people everywhere.

  2. Bro. Szekely said

    Thank you, Ben, for your comments. You’re right – and my intention was not to come across with a critical spirit. I believe that young man is saved, loves the Lord, and is trying to serve Him. What got me was just the idea that he might have thought that God “might not have been” real…that’s all. At least from the phrase, that’s what I would have got from it.

    And I think that the Gospel is very specific, and you’re right, it is confusing to many…why? Well, that might be because many have degradated the Gospel into some sort of ritual that “they” are comfortable with. But as we know, there’s only one Gospel, one way to Heaven, one way to be relieved of the sin-debt we all have. When a guy gets up and “maybe” believes that God is real…I guess I’d have not put it that way, because before anyone will receive salvation from the Lord, that soul must believe that He IS before going any further. I don’t think we can see people saved with the notion that God “might” be real, then try to teach those “babes in Christ” that He is really real.

    Anyway, that’s the observations I was making from this young man’s statement. Thank you for clicking in and commenting! I pray you’d look around the blog some more and comment as you like.

    Lord bless!

  3. ben carroll said

    Bro. Szekely
    I thank you for you’re fast comment to my previous one. I do appreciate how you get others to think about what they say or how they might feel about a certain situation. I am scared that there are people that think they are saved, but really aren’t. May God bless this site, and change many lives through this site.
    God bless!

  4. Bro. Szekely said

    You’re welcome, brother! And I too share your fear on folks having a “false faith”. There’s so much confusion and dilution of God’s Word and His Precious Gospel that it’s incredible that anyone would be saved today. But I do know that our God is greater than all this, and He is still in the “saving-business”, and people are still being delivered from the penalty of sin…in spite of all the worthless Bible perversions, the watered-down TV-evangelism, and “limp-wristed” goats that are on the prowl for souls.

    It’s great to meet you via the blog, brother! Keep on keepin’ on, and not only may God bless you, but may you be a blessing to our God!

    Catch you later!

  5. Pstr. Shane R. Groff said

    Great comments Brother!

    I have also heard preachers say things like, “Pray the prayer, just in case.”

    What are these men doing to the cause of Christ?

    We need to preach it straight, and let God change the hearts.

  6. Bro. Szekely said

    AMEN, my brother!

    Thanks for the comments!

  7. Sylvia said

    I wonder if the young man was meaning that those who were considering putting their trust in Jesus, but did not yet have a relationship with Him, to pray, “God/Jesus if you are real …” It would be an honest prayer on the part of many when they first come to salvation.

    One of my friends first prayer of her life was a litmus test to assertain God’s existance … her prayer began, “If you are real” and then she put forth her request. God answered in a heart beat. Subsequent to that she started attending church and several months later became a Christian following some counsel with the pastor.

    Just a thought. I wasn’t there and didn’t hear the context.

  8. Bro. Szekely said

    I see what you are saying, Sylvia. I do believe that happens where folks will “lay out the fleece” [so to speak] and begin their petition, “God, if you’re real…”.

    My only “rub” in this is that if a person is coming to Christ for His salvation, that person must believe that He is. Isn’t that part of faith? To be saved, a person must believe who Jesus says He is and he must believe on what Jesus says He can do for them. If there’s any doubt about that…why would a person come to and trust Christ if they’re not sure He was real?

    Thank you for commenting and weighing in on this!

    Lord bless!

  9. Sylvia said

    Perhaps there is an arrogance to being a Christian resulting from having a relationship with God which increases faith, and gives first hand knowledge of Him. The person who is wavering, hovering between the call of God and the only life they have known till then does not have that advantage. To pray that first prayer and say, “If you are real …” may in fact not be their prayer of salvation so much as a cry to God to reveal Himself so that He can help with their unbelief.

    Just a thought but where is the non-Christian to start his/her journey?

  10. Bro. Szekely said

    G’day Sylvia! Let me answer back in the following way:

    1) You said, “Perhaps there is an arrogance to being a Christian resulting from having a relationship with God which increases faith, and gives first hand knowledge of Him.”

    –There is not an arrogance to being a Christian due to having a relationship with God…on the contrary – it is humility that is the first hallmark of the Christian faith. Arrogance and pride will NEVER increase faith: “…God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble” James 4:6.

    2) You asked, “where is the non-Christian to start his/her journey?”

    –A person without the Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour must have his/her heart broken over their sin debt they owe before God:

    “The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit” Ps 34:18

    “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise” Ps 51:17

    “For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death” 2 Cor 7:10

    I believe if a person is sincerely convicted of sin and their heart has truly been broken over their offenses before a Holy and Righteous God, they’ll have no need to pray, “God, if You are real…”.

    Many folks today are “seeking” after God intellectually and experimentally [which means, ‘by experience’]. “God, if you’re real…then do something for me that will have me believe on You.” But by His Own Word, He WILL NOT do that. At least four places in Scripture, God says, “the just shall live by faith”, and in Romans 10:17 He says, “So then, faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God”.

    There are those who want “proof” before “faith”…but God says, “No…I want you to have a faith that proves”.

    So this, “God…if You’re real…reveal Yourself to help me to believe in You…” is just not how God operates, in the experimental sense [or, ‘by experience]. God ALREADY HAS revealed Himself…and that’s through His Word.

    So Sylvia, if a person’s “wavering and hovering” as you say on God’s Salvation, I’d say it would come down to that person believing or not believing in what God said in His Word, and not by some “experience”.

  11. Pstr. Shane R. Groff said

    In Sylvia’s responses, she states, “One of my friends first prayer of her life was a litmus test to assertain God’s existence … her prayer began, ‘If you are real’ and then she put forth her request. God answered in a heart beat. Subsequent to that she started attending church and several months later became a Christian following some counsel with the pastor.”

    Later stating, “To pray that first prayer and say, ‘If you are real …’ may in fact not be their prayer of salvation so much as a cry to God to reveal Himself so that He can help with their unbelief.”

    I beleive that the point of the article was that “If you are real” cannot be a part of salvation? It sounds as if Sylvia’s friend did not become a Christian until after she reconciled her belief in God’s existence, based upon the counsel of the pastor from the Word of God… “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God”.

    The search for God must be completed prior to a person placing his/her faith in God.

    At what point was Sylvia’s friend saved? At the point of her “first prayer of her life”? After she began attending church “subsequent” to her first prayer? Or, was it after counseling from her pastor on how to believe on Christ from the Word of God?

    Sylvia’s friend may have been searching. That is why the Lord led her to start attending church – to “hear” the Word of God. But she was not saved until after she trusted that God was “real”.

  12. Bro. Szekely said

    AMEN, my brother…thank you for your comments!

    Lord bless!

  13. Sylvia said

    My friend considered her agnostic prior to her first prayer of, “If you are real …” After that she began to entertain the idea of God and set out to learn more about Him. She says she made the commitment to become a Christian several months later after learning more about God.

    AS a Christian I’ve had a long walk with God, it is sometimes difficult for me to put myself in the position of someone who has never believed in God. Where do they start if not with the question, “God if you are real, reveal yourself to me.” God can do that in a variety of ways.

    My apologies for upsetting the apple cart.

  14. Bro. Szekely said

    No apologies needed, Sylvia…I don’t think there are too many apples on the ground 🙂

    Try this: Remember back when you were not a Christian…before you repented of sin and believed on the Lord Jesus Christ for who He is and for what He said He would do. Remember back to that time – didn’t you still believe God was real, even though you weren’t a Christian? I’m curious about that.

    People can say they’re agnostic or that they’re atheists, but the Bible says that they cannot be: Romans 1:20, “For the invisible things of Him [that’s God] from the creation of the world are clearly seen [clearly!], being understood by the things that are made [that’s us!], even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they [mankind!]are without excuse”.

    So it’s not, “God, if you’re real”, it’s a matter of just being honest. The Bible says that everyone has the knowledge that there is a Supreme Being, a Great Architect, a Creator of all things. The Bible also says that, “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God.” (Ps 14:1, 53:1)

    There are those who will go through life denying and “not being sure that there’s a God”, but they’re only fooling themselves. In fact, they’re being convicted by God every day that God IS real.

    I understand that there are those, who in coming to Christ, will ask or pray, “God…if You’re real…do this or that”. This I do not doubt. BUT – this is a faulty path to faith, “for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6)

    Thank you for your comments, Sylvia!

    Lord bless!

  15. Andrew Diorio said

    G,day Brother Szekely, hope you don’t mind if I throw my two cents into the pot : )

    Certainly, an unbeliever that comes to Christ with the statement “if you’re real, please do this or that” will be gravely disappointed. For Christ said in Mathew 12:39
    “An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas:”

    Jesus Christ has already given us a sign, and that was His resurrection. Those that step out and seek God for some sort of miracle, so that they can “see” God, and believe, must expect to be disappointed, for that is the complete opposite of faith. “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the EVIDENCE OF THINGS NOT SEEN.” They’ve missed the sign altogether. God is not obligated to perform some miracle in their life, so that they can have faith and believe in Him for salvation, for He has already done the miracle, we just fail to see it.

    Also, I would agree that you cannot truly be saved if you come to Christ with the attitude of “if you’re real” I won’t even try to quote more scripture than that which has been used already, for it fits perfectly. “For he that cometh to God MUST BELIEVE THAT HE IS” if you are still in doubt as to the existence of Christ, than how can you put faith in Him to save you?

    Anyway Brother, thats all for now. Thank you for what you are doing with this ministry, its really been a blessing to me.

    In Christ, AD

  16. Bro. Szekely said

    Bro. AD – THANK YOU for your “two cents”!!!

    What you’ve said is really good and it hits the mark! It would seem that there are those who are looking for something tangible or visible to assist in saving faith, but that contradicts Scripture and the operation of Salvation: “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God” (Eph 2:8).

    As you pointed out, God’s Grace was SHOWN on Golgotha’s hill, and the only way to appropriate that is by faith. And “faith” is trusting, believing, or having confidence in…and as far as Biblical Salvation, that would be IN the Lord Jesus Christ.

    Why would anyone even turn to Christ if they weren’t sure He is who He says He is and that He can do what He says He can do? I’ve heard of men who try to “squeeze out” professions of faith from others by saying something like, “Well, you may not really believe what I’m saying, but just in case…repeat this prayer, etc.” That, my brother, is faulty and foolish!

    I’m so thankful you’ve commented on this, my brother! I rejoice in seeing your growth in the Lord as you go. You know I’ve known you for a long time, and it’s my joy to see you walk in Truth.

    You’re a blessing to me, and keep on keepin’ on!

    “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you” Phil 1:3

  17. Pstr. Shane R. Groff said

    Wasn’t it the rich man that wanted Abraham to send Lazarus to his father’s house to testify to his five brothers about the place of torment he was in? (Luke 16:27-28)

    Abraham’s response…

    “They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.” (vs. 29)
    (“Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”)

    The rich man thought that his brothers needed more than just the Word of God (i.e. “Moses and the prophets”). He thought that they would only respond if they could experience some kind of visual and miraculous event.

    “Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent.” (vs. 30)

    People seem to think that they need to have an experience in order to trust in God. “God, prove to me that you are real.”

    I have a nephew that, as I was witnessing to him, told me that he would except God if God will peek down through the clouds and prove He is real. But that visual evidence is not faith. “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things NOT SEEN.”

    Abraham tells the rich man again, “If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.” (vs. 31)

    If our faith is reliant upon physical or visual proof is not genuine faith. True faith is trust based upon God and His word.

    Jesus expected His disciples to believe what He told them about His death and ressurection. But they doubted. Thomas had to have physical proof.

    John 20:26-28 – “And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you. Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing. And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God.”

    This type of faith did not please Jesus.

    Vs. 29 – “Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.”

    Jesus already proved who He was. We do not need any additional evidence.

    I like the way Abraham responded to the rich man, “If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.” (vs. 31)

    One did rise from the dead… Jesus did!

  18. Bro. Szekely said

    GREAT COMMENTS, MY BROTHER!!! Thanks for clicking in and making it so clear.

    Just like with your nephew, I too had a similar time with a guy in England when I was in the Air Force. While I was talking with him about the Lord, he said, “If God would come down right now and stand before me, I’d believe on Him”. My response was, “No you wouldn’t! You’d find some way to explain it away, and besides, God’s NOT going to do that when He wants us to believe on Him by faith!”

    Too many “rich men” and “Thomases” in the world today.

    Thanks again for your comments, my brother!

  19. If someone is sincerely searching, I can see them crying out to God to reveal Himself in some way (and He does promise to do to those who search for Him with all their heart) – but that is not salvation. The most that can be said is that it is the start of them actively searching.

    Salvation only comes by faith – believing in your heart who Jesus is and what He has done to save you. Asking Him to reveal Himself is not salvation. The person may not be sincere – or even if they are, they may refuse what is later revealed. Perhaps God’s way of answering that person’s prayer is by bringing a Christian by to witness to them (not some sign or miracle) or bringing them to a church service where the Word of God is proclaimed clearly and they hear the Gospel in a way that answers their questions – but they still need to respond to the Gospel.

    Years ago, I received a book by Ray Comfort entited God Doesn’t Believe In Atheists – and I was so dismyed by something I read in it (just what you are posting about here). He uses the illustration of a plane being hijacked and the captain passing a note around stating there was a parachute under their seat that would save them. Putting on the parachute pictured putting on Christ (ie. salvation), and he stated that when the passengers jumped out of the airplane without the parachute they died (illustrating going to Hell). This is the conclusion to that chapter (on pages 48-49):

    “Here’s the analogy: There is nothing wrong with questioning the mystery of prayer, the authenticity of the Bible, the existence of God, and the fact of hypocrisy. However, it is wise to put on the “parachute” first. Reach under your seat and put it on. Do what the “Note” says – “Put on the Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 13:14). The parachute is either there or it isn’t. After you have secured your own eternal salvation, then you can worry about the fate of the pretender. If you think it’s important, you can then try to figure out the age of the earth, etc.

    This is the teaching of the Bible: “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). Once you have done that, my hope is that you will spend your time making sure that those around you have seen that Note and obeyed its sobering instruction. Have you put on the Lord Jesus Christ? You could be made to jump through through the door of death into a black and horrifying eternity at any moment. There is a merciless Law waiting for you – a Law far harsher than the law of gravity. You desperately need the Savior. Please, don’t put off your eternal salvation for another moment.”

    So – we don’t have to believe that God will hear or answer our prayers, that His Word is true, that you can be saved (ie. not even be sure there is a parachute under your seat), or even that God is real – we just FIRST need to put on salvation, then we can sort these things out later. THAT IS NOT SALVATION, THAT IS NOT SAVING FAITH! And repentance is nowhere to be seen either. This is so sad!

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