One of the best things about raising boys is their never-ending depth of imagination. One day Andy and Lincoln might be Batman and Robin, running around the house in their underwear and a blanket tied to their back, and the next moment they will be Power Rangers. Yes sir, there is alot of saving the world from the forces of evil going on in the Parish household. One of the boys favorite superheros is a crusader from my youth named He-Man.
If you somehow missed out on 1980’s pop culture, Ill briefly refresh your memory. Parachute pants and Members Only jackets aside, He-Man and The Masters of The Universe were literally the most popular cartoon heroes of that decade. The premise of the cartoon took place in a far off Universe in the land of Eternia. Prince Adam was a member of the royal family who ruled Eternia for the good of the land. But Prince Adam had a secret. Whenever danger came upon Eternia, Prince Adam would grab his sword and recite these words, “By the power of Greyskull….I have the Power!!!” All the sudden lightening would surround him and he would be transformed into a muscle bound super hero with the strength of a thousand men named He-Man.
So to paint the mental picture of a typical night in our house, Andy will run around with a shirt on pretending to be the meek and mild Prince Adam. But as soon as the enemy, (his four year old brother Lincoln) comes onto the scene, Andy grabs his plastic sword and says those powerful transforming words, “By The Power of Greyskull….” Then he takes off his shirt and becomes He-Man, defender of justice and Master of the Universe! Granted this is really all in his little mind. My son doesnt magically grow muscles and gain super strength just because he recited a few words. No matter what he may think, Andy never really changed. He is still my six year old little boy pretending to be something he is not.
We chuckle when our kids do these type things and really think that they are a new creation. Yet many adults do the exact thing with their relationship to God. We go to church and hear the preacher say that there is power in the blood of the Lamb. We hear these false messages from many pulpits that lead us into a false salvation. One church in the mid west had a sign out by the road that said, “Salvation…So easy a caveman can do it!” This is the culture we live in. As David Platt once said, “American Christianity has taken the life blood out of the Gospel of Christ and replaced it with Kool-Aid.”
Walk down the aisle, talk to the preacher, and repeat this prayer, “By the Power of Greyskull……” Sorry, I mean the sinners prayer.
We are no different than a child with an over active imagination when we claim that we have salvation in Jesus Christ and he is the Lord of our lives because we can point back to a time that we recited a man made prayer. Most pagan cults include in their rituals incantations or chants that really hold no power. Its called witchcraft. Isnt it strange how this pagan concept has slowly crept into modern day evangelicals to the point to where the sinners prayer is the measuring stick by which so many use to point to their personal salvation.
If you were to ask over 90% of Americans why they believe they are saved, over 90% would begin to tell you about a time in their lives where they did like my six year old son and said a few words. And now all of the sudden, in their minds, they’ve become a regenerated, spiritual He-Man. Barnam, a Christian Research Company, already put this to the test and found that the sinners prayer was the most popular answer regarding salvation. Most of those claiming to be saved by the sinners prayer in the research hardly attended church, admitted to little or no prayer life, and apart from Sunday mornings, looked the same as their next door neighbor who didnt believe in Jesus. But bless God, they consider themselves saved. Why? Because as they put it, “I prayed the prayer.”
Heres the danger in this. Lets say that you walk that aisle and pray the sinners prayer. You are even baptised. But there is really no heart change. There is really no repentance from sins, just maybe trying harder to avoid them for a week or so. There is no regeneration of the Holy Spirit in your life. And if you are honest with yourself, there is really no love for the Lord. You have just recited an incantation.
Now lets say that tragedy befalls you. You lose your job. The bank forecloses on your house. Your marriage is in shambles. You get bad news from the doctor…its cancer. Or maybe you lose a loved one to an unexpected death. Immediately, questioning God becomes the next step. “Why would a loving God allow this to happen to me?” Or maybe you abandon your faith all together. Maybe you tell yourself, “God cant be real because a loving God wouldnt let me go through this.” Or maybe its just an indication that you knew a little about God, but you never really knew God. See, here is the problem. When someone does this, what they have done is made the cross about themselves rather than about Christ. They believe in a God who should serve them instead of the true God that they were created to serve.
You see, when I was a child I loved He-Man too. I played the same games as my kids, running around the house shirtless screaming the words that would transform me into my hero. But at the end of the day, I was still just a little skinny kid. At the end of the day, no matter what words I said, I was still powerless. I could never become just exactly like He-Man. Ive yet to meet the man (other than Jesus) who could lift a twenty ton boulder with one hand. But I realized I could begin to be conformed to his image. He-Man was the catalyst from my youth that caused me to begin weight training.
I would read books about nutrition, about the human anatomy and muscle growth as a teenager. It was what drove me. Not only did I read alot on the subject of bodybuilding, but I took action. The experts in fitness said to gain muscle, you had to work out hard daily. I sacrificed sleeping late to get up early and hit the gym. I sacrificed much of the party lifestyle to maintain proper nutrition. I was dedicated to conforming myself into a new creation. As the years passed, no longer was I a skinny little runt kid, I had transformed my body by seeking after a muscular image with all my heart.
In like manner, we can never be exactly like Jesus Christ. No one has been born or ever will be born that will walk through life sinless except Jesus. We cant be exactly like him, but we can be conformed to his image. Just saying a prayer changes nothing. It doesnt save you. Knowing Christ in a real and personal relationship is what saves you.
In John 10:27 Jesus says, “My sheep listen to my voice. I know them, and they follow me.”
Simply sitting under the preacher on Sunday, counting down the seconds until its over, doesnt qualify as listening to his voice. When I was seeking that He-Man image I had passion for it. I craved knowledge about fitness. I sacrificed leisure time to know more about the subject and to get stronger. What do you sacrifice in your life currently to know God? Is knowing God so important to you that you would gladly forsake an hour of sleep or your favorite television program to spend time studying his word? More importantly….parents….what are you teaching your children to be most passionate about?
Ive known men who had their young sons on t ball teams. Practice would be one day a week. But every other day of that week, that daddy was pitching to his son in the back yard, working on his fielding and batting so that his child would become a better baseball player. Do we do the same thing in regards to our kids and their relationship to Christ? What have you made Jesus to your family? Is he a far off deity in the sky whom your kids pray to before dinner and draw pictures of once a week in Sunday school? Or is he the very essence of life? Is Christ, as the apostle Paul put it, “Of First Importance.” Fathers, what is the goal you have for your kids? Men, your family will only be as close to the Lord as you are. And it begins with realizing that Christianity is not a one time prayer, but rather, a lifetime pursuit. Jesus is everything in your life, or he is nothing.
To be a strong man, I had to do the things that strong men do. I couldnt just say words like He-Man. I had to do the things that they did.
Jesus said in John 14:12, “Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing…”
Just as Jesus did the works he saw God the Father doing…..
“Jesus gave them this answer: “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.” John 5:19.
And through shadowing the commands of Christ in our own life, we are conformed to our Heavenly Fathers image…..
“For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters”. Romans 8:29.
We cant do it on our own. We cant muster up the strength to be good on our own. We can try but will always fail. Because we are not God. But if we open our hearts, and begin to seek the Lord Jesus with all of our hearts, we begin to be transformed. Not from just the reading of the word, but of actually doing his will. The power of God is not just in the reading of the commands of Christ. Life transformation….heart transformation begins in the application. And so many of us miss out on knowing God because we never seek to be like Christ. Instead we want the easy salvation…to say a prayer. Which is a false, damning salvation and a lie from the enemy. Ill leave you with this quote from Eric Ludy, which sums it up best…..
“Don’t pray that God would teach you how to love like He loves; pray that He would fill you with Himself and that He would love in and through you. Don’t pray that He would teach you to have joy; pray that the living God full of joy would enter into you. Don’t pray that He would teach you how to be peaceful; ask for the God of peace, the Prince of peace to infill you. Because if you try to imitate in your own strength, you will be a miserable replica. But if you allow the impartation of Jesus Christ to overtake you, suddenly it all works because it is Him imitating Himself, and He is very good at being God.”