Do you profess to be a Christian?
According to Webster’s NewWorld Dictionary, a Christian is “a person professing belief in Jesus as the Christ, or in the religion based on the teachings of Jesus.”
During New Testament times those who confessed Jesus as Lord were baptized and considered to be Christians. Their confession assumed an intentional decision to be a fully devoted follower of Jesus Christ.
Christians are people who intentionally seek to be fully devoted followers of Jesus.
When he commissioned his disciples make disciples, Jesus specifically ordered them to teach each new disciple to “obey everything I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:20). Obedience to Jesus Christ is a non-negotiable part of being His disciple or of being a Christian.
And since making disciples involves teaching obedience to all Jesus commanded, it must include an element of accountability. “If we have not taught obedience” wrote Bill Hull, “and encouraged it through accountability, we have not discipled.” Hull defined accountability as “helping people keep their commitments to God.”
Disciple-makers must hold people accountable to God’s standards.
All who are involved in disciple-making need to ask if they are providing accountability for those being discipled. Jesus said, “If you hold on to my teaching, you are really my disciples” (John 8:31). He also said, “If you love me you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15).
The apostle Paul wrote that, “God’s solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: ‘The Lord knows those who are his’ and ‘Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness’” (II Tim. 2:19).
Jesus warned, “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” (Matthew 7:21).
A professing Christian should question whether his or her profession is genuine if he does not obey Jesus Christ by turning from wickedness and doing the Father’s will. Jesus himself questioned, “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord’ and do not do what I say?” (Luke 6:46). Faith without action is dead (see James 2:14-24).
- Have we adequately taught the importance of obeying Jesus Christ as Lord?
- Have leaders allowed people to think of obedience as optional to Christianity?
- Have we decreased the requirements in order to increase the attendance?
If we’ve done this, and our numbers have gone up, it’s frighteningly possible that we have enlarged the harvest of self-deceived people — a group Jesus said would be “many” in number at the last judgment.
A true Christian will want to obey Jesus. Although all Christians disobey their Lord and struggle against sin (Hebrews 12:4), an intentional pattern of obedience is evidence of genuine Christian conversion (I John 3:9). The person who chooses to live in disobedience to Jesus Christ should not consider himself a Christian.