Summary: Knowing all the right WORDS and doing all the right WORKS are not enough. Do you KNOW Jesus?
RELIGION OR RELATIONSHIP?
Karl Barth was a famous theologian. He lived in Basel, Switzerland. One day he was on a streetcar. A tourist to the city climbed on and sat down next to him. The two men started chatting with each other. "Are you new to the city?" Barth inquired. "Yes," said the tourist. "Is there anything you would particularly like to see in this city?" asked Barth. "Yes," he said, "I'd love to meet the famous theologian Karl Barth. Do you know him?" Barth replied, "Well as a matter of fact, I do. I give him a shave every morning." The tourist got off the streetcar quite delighted. He went back to his hotel saying to himself, "what luck, today I met Karl Barth's barber."
You can know a lot about a person without actually knowing or even meeting them. When I was in Kuwait it was a large church with many different congregations. Many people would come up to me and start talking like they knew me. They seemed to know all about my family and my life. They ‘knew’ me but I didn’t know them. You can also know a lot about the truth without ever really accepting it and making it your own. Likewise we can know a lot about Christianity without ever having a personal relationship with Christ.
Matt. 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. 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 perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’
Christianity is based in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. It is not a religion but a relationship with the creator God of eternity.
1. WORDS are not enough (vs. 21) – knowing all the right stuff
Many shall come to Jesus on the Day of Judgment and say “Lord, Lord …” – acknowledging that Jesus is God. However, that will not be enough. Being a Christian is not just about knowing the truth. You can understand and know what the Bible says and yet not be saved.
I have spoken to many Muslim leaders who would meet with me to debate Christianity. They would quote what the Bible said. They knew it better than many Christians. That didn’t mean they accepted it. Even the devil knows that Jesus is Lord
James 2: 14 What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds ? Can such faith save him? 15 Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. 18 But someone will say, "You have faith; I have deeds ." Show me your faith without deeds , and I will show you my faith by what I do. 19 You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that--and shudder.
James is saying here that true faith has legs on it. True faith is not just believing something but stepping out and putting your hope and trust in it. It is not enough to acknowledge that Jesus is Lord – you must make Him YOUR Lord. It is one thing to know that salvation is a gift and another thing to accept that gift.
Jesus said unto them: "Who do you say that I am?" And they replied: "You are the eschatological manifestation of the ground of our being, the kerygma in which we find the ultimate meaning of our interpersonal relationships." And Jesus said: "What?"
There are many people who are very wise and have studied and know the scriptures in great detail and yet they are going to hell. A few years ago I watched this program called the Great Resurrection Debate. In it a very smart person with all kinds of educational degrees was making not so smart conclusions. It does not matter what you know but what you do with what you know.
It is not what we eat but what we digest that makes us strong;
not what we gain but what we save that make us rich;
not what we read but what we remember that makes us learned;
and not what we profess but what we practice that makes us Christians.
A bus driver became annoyed with his job because he had to wait several minutes after every run near an open field which 'litterbugs' had made into an unofficial dump. He thought that somebody should do something about that unsightly mess. One day he himself decided to get out and pick up some of the tin cans and other debris which were lying all around. This improved things so much that he soon was eager to complete his route and spend all his free moments in cleaning up the area. When spring came, he was so enthusiastic about this project that he decided to sow some flower seeds. By the end of the summer people were riding to the end of the line just to see what the driver had accomplished by doing what he and others had only talked about before." The article reminded me of the tremendous gap that often exists in many churches between preaching and practice! Many who know what they believe cause us to wonder if they really believe what they know! An intellectual awareness of the truth is not enough. Belief must take fruit in actions.