When I was a child I would often be asked about my religion or what church I attended. I would answer basically the same way each time. My mother was raised in a Protestant denomination and my father was Catholic therefore I was half Protestant and half Catholic. Good theology, right? Nevermind the fact that my parents did not actually believe in Jesus or the teaching of their supposed denominations. Since they were raised a certain faith by their own unbelieving parents, faith much like race or ethnicity, was passed on to me resulting in me being a Christian of half denomination.
I sincerely believed this was true and took pride in my Christianity despite rejecting Jesus and not really having any idea of who He is or why He died on the Cross. I later went to Catholic School and you HAD TO BE CATHOLIC in order to attend, so I renounced my unbelieving Protestantism and stuck with my unbelieving Catholicism gaining fervor and defensiveness in the process. Surely I had to be a 100% Catholic in good standing because I went to a fancy Catholic School. Again, I know what a mess, but I don’t think I am the only one that was this confused.
Polls regularly find that 80-90% of Americans state they are Christian. Millions of Americans will identify themselves proudly as Christians and may even go to church or have a fish on their car if it is still fashionable in their town. But when questioned about the basis of their faith, the answer is often is as confused and lacking in foundation as mine was growing up. I go to church, therefore I am a Christian! I married in a Catholic Church to make my husband happy or my grandfather gave me his Bible and I loved him therefore I am a Christian! Yet, the mere mention of loving Jesus Christ as a real live person, reading the Bible as the very Word of God or being redeemed and reborn in Christ gives them the “oh no not another born again whacko” willies.
The problem for them or you if you are one of those people is that while God has many millions of children, those who have put their faith in Jesus are called the children of God, He has no grandchildren. No, not one. God has many beloved children who make up the bride of Christ, the church, but He has no in-laws A person’s faith is not inherited or passed along through marriage and does not get passed down through generations like great Aunt Doris’ gravy boat.
Even if your parent or spouse is the greatest example of a submitted Christ loving Christian in history, if you are not at least the worst example of a Christ loving person in the world then you are not a Christian. Even if you attend church every single day and donate millions, if you do not proclaim Jesus as your savior, you are not a Christian. If you do not believe in Jesus as God who came in the flesh to redeem mankind, you may be something derived from Christianity, but you are not a Christian. You either know Jesus as who He is or you don’t.
In the Gospel of Matthew, immediately after talking about how narrow the gate is that leads to eternal life, Jesus takes on the subject of those who are claiming to be teaching others about Jesus and eternal life but are really working for their own ends. In doing so He states that no matter what the profession is from a person’s mouth or what deeds they claim to have done in the name of Jesus, if that person does not know Jesus as Savior then they will not be accepted by Jesus:
Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 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 in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’
Away from me or depart from me if you are a fan of the King James Bible, is the order given by the King of Kings, whose order is not appealable to any higher power. Jesus says away, you have no choice but to go away and there is only one place that will remain that is away from Jesus — hint, it is very unpleasant.
Notice that those who Jesus are rejecting have the trappings of religion. They look good. They may have also actually done the good things that they claim to have been in the Lord’s name on earth. Prophesying and casting out demons is super religious stuff. But no amount of shiny adornments can take the place of what Jesus judges people by — Did you know Jesus? Jesus doesn’t care if you have a Jesus fish on your car or sit up front in church if you do not know Him.
Each one of us is going to have to stand before God on His Throne and be judged. We are going to be alone and judged on us, not our spouses or children or parents. A book is going to be consulted and if your name is in it based upon a real relationship you had with Jesus than as a bad reality show says, you are in. If not, you are not.
So you can be the child of a famous evangelist, the grandchild of the greatest Bible teacher in all of history other than Jesus or in the line of great kings, but if you don’t know Jesus as your Savior — I’m sorry, buckle up, the ride is going to be extremely hazardous and eternity is not going to be fun for you. The good news is that until you hit eternity all it takes is a change in direction, away from the world and trusting in Jesus as Savior for one to be adopted into Jesus’ family. Today is the day!