Are You Actually A Christian?
Many will say to me on that day, "Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?" Then I will tell them plainly, "I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!" Matthew 7:22-23
It was an old historic church and I was a young preacher who was honored to have been invited to speak for the Sunday service. My host was a gray-haired gentleman who had been in that church for more than 60 years so it was only natural that I wanted to extract as much wisdom and personal experience from him as I could muster.
"How many years have you been a Christian?" I asked, and he replied telling me that he had been a member of that church for more than 65 years. He began to tell me about the high days during that period of time, the boards and committees he had served on, and threw in some humor and anecdotes. I was impressed but I didn't get a clear answer to my question, so I rephrased it.
"Was it in this church that you became a believer in Jesus Christ?" "Joined the church at age 12," he said, embarking on another long discourse. By then I was really puzzled. It reminded me of asking questions in a foreign country when the person who answered me didn't understand enough English to get the hang of what I was asking and gave me some strange answers.
"Tell me about how you came to faith in Christ," I asked a third time. With this question, his eyes fell to the ground, and in an instant, I knew he had understood my first question.
He quietly said, "I hate to admit this, but I've never really become a Christian. Joined the church, you know, and served on every board and committee there is but I could never bring myself to admit that I was a sinner and needed to be saved."
What a tragedy! This man knew the language, he knew the songs, he knew the workings of a church but he didn't know Him who told Peter that upon the confession that He was Lord, He would build His church.
Are there many like this? And more pointedly, are you one of them? Jesus spoke words of warning, saying, "Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'" (Matthew 7:22-23).
If you don't want to be left behind when Christ returns, you had better learn what you need to do to become God's child. If it isn't joining the church, serving on boards and committees, and being a good person, what is it?
Simply put, three steps are necessary.
Step #1: You must realize that you need to be saved. From what? From your sin which has separated you from God, which has driven a wedge between you and His mercy. Most of us understand this important truth; we just don't know what to do about it. A sense of guilt and shortcoming pervades the thoughts of every honest person.
Step #2: You must believe that Jesus Christ is God's provision for your sin, that He died for you. Paul puts it, "God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God" (2 Corinthians 5:21).
Step #3: Believe that God will honor what Christ did and as you ask His forgiveness, He will forgive you, change your life, and accept you into His family. "That if you confess with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord,' and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved" (Romans 10:9).
What could be a greater tragedy than to go to church for almost all of your life and yet be left behind when Christ returns. Make sure, friend, you are not among those who know a lot about churches but don't know Him who gave birth to the Church.
Resource reading: John 3:1-17