Self Identified Christians Usually Aren’t (Matthew 21)

“What do you think? A man had two sons. And he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ And he answered, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he changed his mind and went. And he went to the other son and said the same. And he answered, ‘I go, sir,’ but did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?”

Jesus made it clear that “many will say to me on That [Judgment] Day ‘Lord, Lord did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive our demons and in your name perform many miracles?” Being a Christian isn’t just saying that you believe in Jesus. It’s not even thinking that you believe in Jesus… it’s actually believing in Jesus, which always leads to acting as though you believe in Jesus. This Parable in Matthew 21 illustrates the point, who is a Christian, the one who says they are, or the one who does God’s will? Jesus paints a picture of those who do many many things in Jesus’ name. In our contest, this might be serving at a soup kitchen, collecting clothing for the poor, going on mission trips to foreign countries… all amazing and excellent things Christians should do… but not things that make you a Christian.On the other side, we have people who come and sit in church, perhaps only a few times per year, and they think that because of their attendance (even weekly) they are a Christian because they are around the Church, this is not the case.

I believe this is related to the whole “ask Jesus into your heart” controversy. The problem is not that people ask Jesus into their heart (without getting too into it… Paul uses such language in Ephesians 3 thus making it not “superstitious” to say it, and the SBC published a great resolution on this in 2012 which settles the issue). Praying a prayer, walking an aisle, making a pledge, signing a covenant, enrolling in a membership class, learning a catechism, or anything else you do doesn’t make you a Christian… repentance and belief in the Gospel does. God’s work is not all this ‘stuff’ we think we accomplish, “the work of God is this: to believe in the One He has sent” that is Jesus. Do you believe in Jesus? That’s all it takes… but who really believes in Jesus, the one who says it, or the one who lives it?

Jesus is pretty clear… James is more direct: “a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.” Even the Apostle Paul speaks about “the obedience of faith” (Romans 1:5; 16:26)

John Calvin put it this way “Faith alone justifies, but the faith which justifies is not alone” (The Principles of Theology, p. 61)

Walk the walk, don’t simply talk the talk. You say you’re a Christian? You claim to be an Evangelical? Very well, understand that means something. I can’t just claim to be a bird and make it so, if I jump off a roof and fall to my death, I’m fooling myself. Don’t fool yourself. Do you actually follow Jesus, or are you simply claiming to be a Christian?

Being a Christian isn’t complicated, put Jesus first as best you can, rely on His strength to do it, follow him, every day, every moment, step by step, for the rest of your life.

Who is doing God’s will? The one who believes… trust Him today.

About John Harris

I don't know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve.
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