Matthew 7:21-23 ““Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

Are you a Christian? If you are an American, the chances are pretty good that your answer is “yes.” In two fairly recent polls that I’ve seen, somewhere between 71% (Pew Foundation) and 83% (ABC News) of all Americans identify themselves as Christians. Those are astounding numbers, especially in light of the fact that Jesus said that there will be very few that enter the small gate and narrow road that leads to eternal life (Matthew 7:14).

Jesus says in the verses above that “many” will call out to him as their “Lord, Lord” on “that day,” i.e., the day of judgment when the truth about everything, including the truth about what’s really in each person’s heart, will be revealed. It is terrifying to think that “many” will be turned aside on that day and condemned to eternal torment in hell. Obviously, according to Jesus, many people are self- deceived and they will remain self-deceived to the end of their lives. They may be religious, they may call themselves Christians, they may even confess to doing miracles and great things in the name of Christ, but they are not Christians.

So what is a Christian, then? How can one really know? Jesus doesn’t want us to be unclear about this. His word is filled with warnings and tests that we can check our lives against. Some bank on having “prayed a prayer to receive Christ,” or “walked an aisle in church to accept Christ;” however, nowhere in Scripture are these things used to describe true Christians. The tests the Bible uses are one’s faith, attitude, and behavior regarding sin, Christ, the church, and the Bible itself. Someone can know everything the Bible says about everything, but if he or she doesn’t obey it, and if his or her life is nothing more than a pattern of unconfessed and persistent sin, then that person is not a Christian (Matthew 7, Matthew 25: I Peter 1:3-11, I Corinthians 6:9-10, Ephesians 5:5-6). If a person doesn’t believe that Jesus is God, and if a person doesn’t truly surrender his or her wishes and desires to His will, then that person is not a Christian (Luke 6:46, 1 John 5). If a person doesn’t love the Bible, other Christians, and Christ, he or she is not a Christian (1 John).

Again, the Bible is filled with tests of Christianity, and it warns us to examine ourselves in light of what it says (2 Corinthians 13:5). While it is indeed true that salvation comes by faith and not works (Ephesians 2:8-9), true faith will have the evidence of a changed life, a life that demonstrates that what a person says they believe they actually believe because their actions reflect that belief. A true Christian cares about such things. They are the most important things in all of life to him or her. But a person who is a Christian in name only, will put little if any credence in them.

So are you a Christian? Don’t wait until it’s too late to take the test! When Jesus examines us in person – which he will – it will indeed be too late for those who waited – just as Jesus described in the story of the five foolish virgins in Matthew 25:1-13. If you are wondering, I urge you to read these and the other verses mentioned above and examine yourself by them. That’s the purpose for which were given to us by God.

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