December 5, 2003
Encouragement for Today
Are you Really a Christian?
"Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." (Romans 10:13)
When asked, "Are you a Christian?" most Americans will respond affirmatively. According to statistics, most Americans believe in God and think they will go to Heaven when they die. However, the Bible says, "But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it" (Matthew 7:14). Why do so many people think that they are Christians if they are not?
A False Christian
Believes in God – Simply believing in God does not make you a Christian. Satan himself, along with all the demons of Hell, believes in God. James says, "You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that – and shudder" (James 2:19). The difference in a false Christian and a true Christian is that a true Christian doesn’t just believe in God, he knows God personally.
Believes in Self – Some people think they are Christians because they strive to live a moral life. They assess themselves as "good" in comparison to others. Based on their good deeds they believe they have earned the right to enter Heaven. The Bible teaches that our good deeds will not purchase our ticket to Heaven: "…all our righteous acts are like filthy rags…" (Isaiah 64:6). If we could receive salvation by being a good person then God sent His Son to die for no reason. To say that you are good enough to enter Heaven on your own is to reject the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
Believes in Religion - Being a Christian is not about a religion, it’s about a relationship. Salvation is not based on church attendance or denominational preference. Salvation is found in the person of Jesus Christ. Going to church, wiping noses in the church nursery, and teaching a Sunday school class does not win you brownie points in the Lamb’s Book of Life. The Lord condemned the "religious" leaders and all their religious rituals when He said, "these people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men" (Isaiah 29:13). God is concerned with your heart, not your religion.
Believes in Unconditioned Mercy – I wish I had a quarter for every time I have heard, "God is too good to send me to Hell. His mercy will prevail." Mercy is only one of God’s holy characteristics. He is also a God of justice. His mercy will prevail with sinners who accept His Son. His Justice will prevail with sinners who reject His Son. God’s mercy was demonstrated when He sent His Son to die for our sins. He desires to pour out His mercy to those who believe and accept His Son as atonement for sin. Those who reject His mercy by rejecting His Son will most definitely suffer His wrath.
Becoming a Christian is as simple as receiving a gift. We cannot earn it or buy it. Jesus bought it for us with His own blood. He paid our debt in full so that we do not have to pay it ourselves. Paul says, "The wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life" (Romans 6:23). The word "wages" is what our sins have earned us, which is death. The Bible defines eternal death as being separated from God.
A True Christian
Believes He is a Sinner – Sin is what separates us from God. Sin is simply breaking God’s law, His commandments, such as lying. We have all broken God’s law. Therefore, we are all sinners.
Believes Jesus Christ Died for Him – Because God is holy, He cannot tolerate sin. In fact, He said that all sin must be punished by death. In all fairness, we should each pay for our own sins. But God, out of His love for us, paid the price when He sent Jesus to die on the cross. There is no greater love than the love that Jesus has for you. It wasn’t the nails that held Him to the cross that day but His love for you. He suffered and died in order that you might have life abundantly.
Believes Salvation is Only Through Jesus Christ – Jesus says, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6). Jesus Christ is the one and only provision for our sinfulness. In order for us to be forgiven, there has to be atonement for our sins. Jesus is our atonement. He died so that we might live. He paid the price so that we do not have to.
Believes in God’s Promise – God’s Word is holy and true. If you acknowledge yourself as a sinner, if you believe that Jesus died on the cross for your sins, if you repent of your sins and invite Jesus to be your Lord and Savior, you will be saved. Jesus promised, "Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in" (Revelation 3:20). Will you let Jesus in?
My Prayer for Today: Dear Father in Heaven, I acknowledge that I am a sinner. I believe that Jesus died for me, paying the price for my sins. I believe Jesus rose from the dead, conquering death in order for me to live eternally. I am sorry for my sins against you. Please forgive me. I invite you to come into my life and reign as my Lord and Savior. Help me to know you. Thank you, Jesus, for saving me and for giving me new life in you. Amen.
If you have based your Christianity on attending church rather than a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, break through that wall of religion and embrace Jesus today by reading His Word and talking to Him through prayer.
Have I ever come to a point in my life where I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior? When?
Do I attend church out of duty or desire?
Do I attend church to be entertained and meet with friends, or to praise, worship and bless my Lord?
Am I striving to grow in my personal relationship with Jesus? How?
Romans 3:23 For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
John 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.
1 Peter 3:18 For Christ died for sins once and for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God.
John 1:12 Yet to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God.
Intimate Moments with God by selected women authors
At Home with God by Sharon Jaynes
Living Life on Purpose by Lysa Terkeurst
P31 Woman Magazine by Proverbs 31 Ministries