Any pastor or priest can tell you: It isn’t unusual to get a phone call, “My grandpa died; we need you to do the funeral.” The small moment of silence on the other end is the clergyperson wondering, “Who in the heck is this? Do I know this person? Do they belong to this church? If I search the membership rolls, will I find them? I really don’t know them.”

God may say something to a person when they cross over into eternity: “I don’t know you.” These are people who are institutional Christians. They have taken out what they believe is an eternal life insurance policy. They are “members” of a church.

When they use that word, “church,” they are confessing bad theology. They practice a form of church that is foreign, from every New Testament definition. They are AWOL: absent without leave.

Can they practice their faith at home, without physically being around the Christian family? Technically—yes! Does it actually occur? Never! Ask any pastor, “Do these people demonstrate any evidence of an active, living faith, by any measure?”

Nobody wants to sin by judging people. But in truth? They are nominal: in name only. They are fooling themselves, and maybe some relatives, but not God.

In Romans 2:17-24, Paul writes to the Jews living in the spiritual cesspool of Rome in the first century: “If you’re brought up Jewish, don’t assume that you can lean back in the arms of your religion and take it easy, feeling smug because you’re an insider to God’s revelation…. Who is guiding you?”

You are a Christian because of who you are in Christ, not because you claim membership in an institution!

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