“My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples. Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.”——-John 15:8-11
Christians, no doubt, want to see every person put their faith in Jesus. Once you have tasted the goodness of the Lord, His love, and forgiveness, how could you not want everyone to come to this saving faith?? But in most attempts to share the Gospel, the methods and strategies that are used end up giving people false assurance that they are “in the club” when they truly may not be.
The Gospel is often times shared as a “sales pitch” in order to get people to say they believe in Jesus. The rewards presented for believing in Jesus is that all your sins are forgiven and you get to go to heaven when you die. People today, at least in the United States, still seem to have a tendency to associate with a faith in “Jesus” for these reasons. But what most lack is a greater understanding of what it actually means to believe in Jesus.
It is common for Christians to use the term “who are we to judge” when it comes to a person saying they believe in Jesus. There is a wall built around accepting and including everyone who gives an affirmation of faith. Most don’t have any issue “judging” those that they see are “in” while at the same time saying they are not “judging” those that may be “out”. In other words, it is pretty hypocritical to say you aren’t “judging” when it comes to those that you think are believers, but take issue with those that are “judging” those that believe and act contrary to Biblical faith. I guess it is simply nicer to believe people are Christian than to say they are not even when their beliefs and actions clearly point to them not believing the Truth.
Most Christians seem to have bought into the idea that if you give a quick “presentation” of the Gospel, it will lead to many people believing. We see this as individuals as well as in churches. The methods of getting people to raise hands, fill out cards, “pray prayers”, altar calls, and many other things, have been taught along the way to “seal the deal”. Many seem more concerned about meeting goals and expectations that they end up evaluating success based on quantitative numbers of people professing faith in Jesus rather than the qualitative understanding of people knowing what that really means.
It is always a reminder of how engrained Christians and churches have become with people professing faith in Jesus during times like Easter and Christmas. With the rise of social media and other things, it is almost instantaneous to report on the seemingly massive numbers of people who apparently said they believed in Jesus. And not to say that none of these were real, hopefully all were, but based on the goals, expectations, and the sheer lack of a clear explanation of many “gospel presentations”, it is difficult believing many people have enough understanding of what it actually means to put their faith in Jesus or even the time to work through the implications of faith in their lives.
It would seem best for us to believe that people are truly NOT believers until they actually prove otherwise. For some reason, people get sucked into thinking others are fellow believers because of a simple affirmation they hear, but to later find out it was nothing more than invoking Jesus’ name. We must slow down and see if people can clearly articulate Biblical faith and know what it means to live in obedience to the Lord. Until we know that the person can explain what it means to believe in Jesus, outside the cookie cutter church answers, we should be very careful going around declaring all these people as true Christians.
How can we know in these massive events if someone actually knows the Truth?? There is truly no way to know for certain because there is little to no interaction if they understand the Gospel. But many continue to loudly proclaim “success” when there is no way to prove these results.
So when we see people in churches say they are believers, athletes on television praising God, celebrities talking about their faith, or anyone for that matter, we would do far better taking step back, hoping that they truly believe in Jesus according to the Bible, but must not go around declaring to others that these people are fellow believers until we know more clearly than just simple affirmation of using Jesus’ name.
It is not only dangerous to accept everyone who professes to know Jesus, but equally dangerous to give assurance to people who don’t really know what that means. There is a huge difference between someone truly putting their faith in Jesus and someone simply invoking God’s name. What we see today is nothing more than feeble attempts to get people to “sign up” for faith in Jesus and give them false assurance of this belief, but who never really understand the Gospel.
We are living in scary times with so many blurring the lines of real faith. Not only is there a blurring of Biblical Christianity, but also the blending of other religions and beliefs contrary to Scripture. That is why we must be very careful declaring people are real believers that say they believe in Jesus when they might understand that to mean something completely different. Not everyone or everything is Christian even when Christian terminology or Bible verses are used. And more and more today, this all-inclusive-define-Jesus-how-you-want is making big steps inside churches. We must be on our guard and check everyone and everything against the backdrop of the Bible.
Each of us have a huge responsibility that we don’t just have true head knowledge of faith in Jesus, but live it out in our daily lives. The same goes with those we “think” are believers. This doesn’t mean we are perfect or even believe everything correctly in Scripture. But what it does mean is that we are far more careful in making sure that we are proving ourselves to be true followers of the Lord and not just accepting or believing that everyone is Christian because they say they do.