Several weeks ago I posted a sermon video, with the promise of my own comments soon. For those of you who did not see it, I am re-posting both the video and the link where you can download the mp3; the sermon is 1 hour long and I personally am not likely to sit and watch something that long in front of the computer. But I do listen as I drive. Here's the link where you can do that: http://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?sermonID=52906154239
If you are curious, you can read more about this man's ministry on his web site here: http://www.heartcrymissionary.com/
Paul Washer passionately puts into words some things that I have been thinking a lot about over the past year. I am not going to try to outline his sermon, I really want you to listen to it. But scroll down below the video where I will try to articulate my own thoughts.
It is way too easy to call yourself a Christian in America today. It costs us nothing. Everyone claims to be a Christian, particularly here in the Bible Belt. Is everyone who claims to be a Christian really a Christian? What is a Christian? Someone who believes in God? Someone raised in a home with Christian values? An American? If everyone who claims to be a Christian is not one, how do I know I am a Christian?
The definition of a true believer is very narrow. I am a sinner, God loves me anyway, the penalty for my sin is death, Christ paid that penalty for me, and I become a child of God through faith and trust in Christ for my salvation. When I put my faith and trust in Christ, something fundamentally changes in me. I don’t have to fix myself and be perfect, but my life will begin to reflect my encounter with God. My life will change, what is important will change, my behavior will change, my focus will change. Life will no longer be about me, it will be about God. Not so that He will love me, but because He loves me and I love Him back. I have entered into a relationship with God, a living, breathing, intimate relationship. He is not just an example that I must follow, it is as if He lets me come alongside of Him while He works; because it is He that is working through me.
If I am living a life of habitual immoral behavior, then I must question my own salvation, because I obviously do not love God. If I am God’s child, He will discipline me and keep pushing me back in line; He will not let me continue to live a life characterized by sin. If I love Him, I will obey Him out of love, I will seek Him through studying His Word the Bible, and in prayer, I will seek fellowship with other believers. Without those things there is no relationship.
These are very hard teachings here in America, where the definition of a Christian has changed so much. But God impresses them on me more and more, and I find myself unable to not write and post this. I pray that you will look into your own life, and see if there is any evidence of God working, of a personal relationship that extends beyond attending church or repeating a bedtime prayer. I pray that you will seek Him, because if you do, He promises that you will find Him. But don’t take it for granted that you are a Christian just because you prayed a prayer once, or because you have a Christian family. Because Jesus also says that many will come before Him at the Judgment and claim to know Him, but He will not recognize them.