According to a national study, nearly 80 percent of Americans call themselves Christian. More than 1,000 “self-identified” U.S. Christians 18 years of age and older participated in the study commissioned by Christianity Today International and Zondervan Publishing. While the results may sound encouraging, a closer look reveals a sad and alarming reality. America is going to hell.

According to the study, Christians can be divided into five categories: Active Christians, Professing Christians, Liturgical Christians, Private Christians and Cultural Christians. Ninety percent of Active and Professing Christians said “accepting Christ as Savior and Lord” is the key to being a Christian. Liturgical, Private and Cultural Christians favored generally “believing in God” as the main element in being a Christian. For a huge number of people who consider themselves Christian, Christ is not the central figure of their faith. Unbelievable!

If believing in God is all that is required to become a Christian, then there are plenty of demons in hell who are going to need a better explanation for why they are feeling the heat! Simply believing there is a God didn’t work for them, and it won’t work for us. It is what we do with Jesus that seals our fate.

Results from the study revealed other alarming facts. While Active Christians are committed churchgoers, accept leadership positions, read their Bibles and feel obligated to share their faith, Professing Christians focus on a personal relationship with God and Jesus, but are less involved in church and are less committed to Bible reading or sharing their faith.

Liturgical Christians were found to be regular churchgoers who recognize the authority of the church. They have a high level of spiritual activity, mostly expressed by serving in church and/or community.

Private Christians were among the largest and youngest segment surveyed. They believe in God and doing good things, own a Bible, but don’t read it. They have spiritual interest, but not within church context. About a third attend church and almost none is church leaders.

Cultural Christians have little outward religious behavior or attitudes. They are God-aware but do not view Jesus as essential to salvation. They affirm many ways to God and favor universal theology.

One thing is clear from the study; people are relying on perception as truth. Perception is not reality when it comes to salvation. Close enough is not good enough when a soul is one inch from Heaven. Is there any wonder why so many don’t know they are lost and without Christ when so many churches are serving up feel good, touchy, feely sermons that never require a person to consider where they will spend eternity? The Good News is the good news! We don’t have to use a spoonful of sugar to get the Gospel message to go down.

There is nothing more powerful than sharing your personal testimony with a friend, and yet, so few Christians ever do it. Unless we change our ways, in the end, there will be hell to pay.

Make no mistake about it, until the Spirit leads a person to admit he is a sinner and is in need of a Savior, there will be no salvation. Only then is a lost soul in a position to confess Jesus as Lord and Savior of his life.

As Southern Baptists, we have a biblical mandate to share the Good News as we seek to develop fully devoted disciples of Christ. Nothing else will do.