Sermons

Summary: Just saying that you are a Christian does not make you a Christian. Going to Church doesn’t make you a Christian.

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TEXT: Acts 26:20

TITLE: WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE A CHRISTIAN?

Listen to this from The Living Bible: “I preached first to those in Damascus, then in Jerusalem and through Judea, and also to the Gentiles that all must forsake their sins and turn to God-- and prove their repentance by doing good deeds.”

A few weeks ago I was captivated by the events of Ronald Reagan’s death. There were a lot of good things said about him & rightly deserved. (June 5, 2004)

As these commentators were talking about Ronald Regan they began to talk about Reagan being a Christian. Because not everyone who was watching probably knew what it meant to be a Christian this commentator made this comment: I don’t believe we have ever elected a president who is not a Christian.

During the 1960’s, 1970’s and 1980’s America underwent a revival of unparalleled historic proportion.

According to Gallup surveys, confirmed by other polls taken over the past 15 years, 33% of all Americans over age 18 indicate they are evangelical or “born again” Christians. That translates into 59 million Christians, or one in every three adults, who experienced a turning point in their lives as they made a personal commitment to Jesus Christ.

This information should grip us with terror. It means that the greatest revival in history has so far been impotent to change society. It’s revival without reformation. It’s revival which left the country floundering in spiritual ignorance. It’s a change in belief without a corresponding change in behavior.

Other polls, as well as our own experience, show that this dramatic spiritual conversion has not been followed by a moral conversion. Instead, during those decades the moral will & character of America fractured into thousands of diverse, dwarfish, self-determined systems of values & beliefs.

The American gospel has evolved into a gospel of addition without subtraction. It is the belief that we can add Christ to our lives, but not subtract sin. It is a change in belief without a change in behavior. It is a spiritual experience without any cultural impact. It is revival without reformation. It is revival without repentance.

We as the church have done a good job on evangelism but we have done a poor job on discipleship. Every new generation of believers must be discipled. Once shown how to add Christ to their lives, they must be taught how to subtract sin—and to obey. Paul’s gospel was adamant that adding Jesus must be accompanied by subtracting sin. “I preached that they should repent {subtract sin} and turn to God {add Christ} and prove their repentance by their deeds {obedience}.”

The proof of religious conversion is to demonstrate that we have both added a relationship with Christ and that we have subtracted sin (repentance). And we multiply proof to a weary world by what we do—our deeds, our obedience. What we do must confirm what we say. Our deeds are the proof of our repentance. Are you proving your repentance to the world by your deeds?

James 2:14, 17, 18 – “(14) What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him?...(17) Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. (18) But someone will say, "You have faith, and I have works." Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.”


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