The Essential Point Of Christianity

Mark 8:38 says this, “for whoever is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the Holy Angels”. Now, what in the world does it mean to be ashamed of Christ? What does it mean when it says “ashamed of me and my words”? What is that referring to? Does it mean a certain theology, or a certain kind of church policy? What exactly are we talking about here? I think the parallel Scripture passage in Luke 12:8-9 tells us somewhat about how to understand the word “ashamed”. “…everyone who confesses Me before men, the Son of Man will confess him also before the angels of God; but he who denies Me before men will be denied before the angels of God”. Well, it seems the word ‘ashamed’ and the word ‘confessed’ are synonymous. They mean the same kind of thing to the authors of the Gospels. When i think of the word ‘confess’, i kind of think of someone owning up to a crime he has committed, but that’s obviously not what’s being referred to here. When it says, “…for whosoever is ashamed of me…”, i thought, well, this might in reference to those folks who would never join a church. And yet I guess one of the verses that have haunted me more than any other in all the New Testament is Matthew 7:21-23, and I think it relates right here to what it means to be ‘ashamed’ or to ‘confess’. This thing really is puzzling when Jesus Himself says, “Not everyone who says to me Lord, Lord will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my father who is in heaven many will say to me on that day Lord. Lord did not we prophesy in your name and cast out demons in your name and perform many miracles in your name. And I will declare to them. I never knew you depart from me you who practice lawlessness”. Well, that sure complicates matters. Is it possible for you to use the right religious vocabulary, to attend the right church, at the right time, to carry a Bible, and preach, and to even do miracles and wonders in Jesus’ name, and still not be a true Christian? What in the world could that mean? I’ve heard it preached all my life that you just got to say yes to Jesus, and that settles the issue, And here are people who are saying “Lord, Lord…”, people who are working in His church, and Yet Christ says, “I never knew You…”. What are we dealing with here? I thought ‘ashamed’ and ‘confess’ meant talking about Jesus in public? You know, if you talk about Jesus in public, that must be, you must know Him. And yet apparently, simply talking about Jesus is not synonymous with knowing Jesus. Preaching out of the Bible and doing miracles in Jesus’ Name and still not know Him is a staggering thought – so unsettling thought. Perhaps we need to rethink exactly what it is that makes a man right with God. Sometimes, I would tend to believe that we get into the cultural rut of thinking that the church’s membership roll is synonymous with the Book of Life. And it is not! Is it possible today that there are people who are speaking about God, and do not know Him? Do you think it’s possible that some of the miraculous things we hear about and read about done in Jesus’ Name are really not done by God’s people? YES! TO JOIN A CHURCH IS NOT SYNONYMOUS WITH BECOMING A CHRISTIAN. TO CARRY A BIBLE IS NOT SYNONYMOUS WITH BEING A CHRISTIAN. TO BE A PREACHER IS NOT SYNONYMOUS WITH BEING A CHRISTIAN. TO DO MIRACLES IN JESUS’NAME IS NOT AUTOMATICALLY THE SIGN OF GOD. If saying, “Lord, Lord…” is not a public profession of faith in Christ, what in the world is? Do you see the horns of the dilemma upon which we are on? Jesus says, “if you’re ashamed of me…” in Matthew, and in Luke He says, “if you do not confess me…” the question comes back again, what do the words ‘confess’ and ‘ashamed’ mean? Because of the cultural Christianity of our day, I really think that we believe that if anybody who dresses up and comes to church on Sunday, and carries the right kind of Bible, He’s got to be a Christian. And that’s so wrong. Being a Christian is more than having a pendant cross on around your neck; more than having a ‘Jesus loves you’ t-shirt. Being a Christian is more than simply coming and sitting on Sunday morning. I do think sometimes people believe that knowing their Bible makes them a Christian. I want to tell you, you can know your Bible from cover to cover; memorize 3000 verses; have a degree in theology the world can offer, and still not know Jesus Christ. It’s not how often you attend church; it’s not how much you give in percentages; it’s not how godly your parents are; it’s not how big of a Bible you are carrying, and how often you quote from it. Being a Christian has to do primarily with the Person of Jesus Christ. You take Christ out, and you have nothing. So the question is, are you ashamed of the Person of Jesus Christ? Another way of putting it is, Do you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ? You see, I have a personal relationship with my wife; I have a personal relationship with my 2 kids; I have a personal relationship with the brethren in the church. I talk to them, visit them, and I share with them. But I have never ever seen Jesus Christ with my physical eyes. He has never audibly spoken to me. I have never touched Him nor smelled Him. So, what do I mean when I say I have a personal relationship with Him? I think one way that I’m able to know that I have a personal relationship with God through Christ is that when my life becomes heavy on my shoulders, and I’ve got problems that I can’t cope with, and I’ve got frustrations that I have no place to go to, and when nobody is around, and nobody knows, and nobody can see, and nobody can hear, and I close the door to my bedroom, and I fall down on my knees before God, and I start talking to Him as if He was sitting right there, even though I can’t touch Him or feel Him, I know in my heart because I pray, God’s going to do something about the needs of my heart. That’s a personal relationship! That is focusing in on the Person of Christ I only know by faith through the written Revelation, and through fellowship and through the indwelling Holy spirit that leads me to Him intuitively. You see the question of Christianity has never been what church do you belong to. The question of Christianity has never been what kind of bubbly exciting personality do you have? The question of Christianity has never been how often do you attend worship? The question has never been how often or how much do you pray or give. The question has always been is what have you done with the Person of Jesus Christ? That’s more than just saying “Lord, Lord” because these guys were preaching, teaching, healing, and doing miracles, and they were saying “Jesus” every other breath. But Jesus said, I don’t know. So, just to articulate Jesus with the lips is not Christianity. For the life of me, what then in the world is it? “For whoever is ashamed of me and my words,…” – Did you ever notice that Jesus never gave us a systematic theology? He didn’t sit down and said I will tell you about God, and I will tell you about Sin, and I’m going to tell you about Predestination. Jesus never sat down and talked about theology. But He sat down and talked about Himself. “For anyone who loves his father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me; and anyone who does not take up his cross and follow Me is not worthy of Me.” – He focused everything on Himself. Christianity is not a system of theological proof texts about God. Christianity is not a building with a lot of people in it. Christianity is not the worship of the Book. Christianity is knowledge acted on by faith in a Person who historically died, and historically rose from the dead. Christianity does not stand on who you are, or what you’ve done for God, or how nice of a person you are, or how faithful of a person you are. It stands on what God has done through Christ, and His finished work on Calvary. And when we stand before God on that Day, He’s not going to ask our credentials, or our degrees, or our achievements. He’s not going to give us a theology test, God’s going to ask us this one question: What have you done to my beloved Son? Do you know Jesus? Do you know Him?