Are You A Christian In Name Only?

Could we be misleading people when we state that if they will say this prayer: I accept Jesus Christ as the Son of God and my Lord, I ask for forgiveness, state I repent of my sins, ask and invite the Holy Spirit into my life they are saved forever? It doesn’t take much more than this but is everyone who says these words saved? Let us look at the following parable.

Mark 4:15 – 20 – “Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them. Others, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once receive it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful. Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop—thirty, sixty or even a hundred times what was sown.”

Mark 10: 17 – 31 – “As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him.‘ Good teacher,’ he asked, ‘what must I do to inherit eternal life?’… Jesus looked at him and loved him. ‘One thing you lack,’ he said. ‘Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.’ At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth. Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, ‘How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!’ The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, ‘Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.’ The disciples were even more amazed, and said to each other, ‘Who then can be saved?’ Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.’… But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”

It is apparent that Jesus had great compassion for the young man. Mark paints a picture of a very sincere young man who was willing to do most anything to obtain it. However, when Jesus said to sell everything he owned and give it to the poor it exposed the one thing that will keep many out of heaven. It was his love for money and material things over God. His many assets had become his idol. Too often wealth determines who we are, what we have accomplished and the many successes we have had. He had broken the commandment that says we shall have no other God before me.

Did what Jesus was teaching, apply to a rich person only? What about anyone who is unwilling to give up whatever is the most important thing in their life also apply?

Salvation comes only when we have a change of heart and it also requires a passion to please God. Otherwise, we have said the words in our head and do little to live according to God’s ways. God expects believers to change from being self-centered to being Christ-centered. Just how does one make all of the changes the Bible requires once we are saved? The Bible makes very clear the importance of faith, hope and love in our lives. The greatest of these three is love. Let’s look at what God says we are to do to live as a Christian.

I Corinthian 13:4 – 7 – “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes and always perseveres.”

Let’s start with the greatest change we need to make and that is to learn to love. Scripture tells us we must love unconditionally without expecting anything in return. It is easy to love when we expect our love to be beneficial to us. However, that is not what God expects. So what does Scripture say about love? We are told love is being patient with people but not necessarily with the normal events in our lives. We know that we must be kind in dealing with others. If we are unkind we lack love. Positive responses normally come when we are kind and thoughtful toward others.

Love does not envy. Envy can be wanting what others have badly enough to do most anything to get it. Envy can be that if we can’t have it we do not want another to have it either. Most everyone would like to be wealthy, well known, loved and accepted. How we accept the good fortune of others is indicative of our love. Being envious can take away the opportunities that come with being a Christian.

Matthew 7:21 – “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.”

Matthew 7:21 tells me it isn’t so much about what I believe but how I live. I have mentioned previously that one of the greatest gifts I have received is contentment. Christ has given to me everything I need. Philippians 4:13 – “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” We must learn to be pleased with what God has allowed us to have. We must not allow what we do not have to be something that we must have. We must not envy what others have that we don’t. We must be careful to give God thanks for everything we have. This does not preclude us from having nice things, a good job, home, cars and other items. However, contentment means these material things are not must haves! I always remember the man given the five talents who made ten and his master said, good and faithful servant. To the man given one talent and buried it made the master angry. He took talent and gave it to the man who had made ten. Contentment does not mean laziness! We must do our very best in every endeavor and material things are only byproducts of our labor.

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