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Are there really two billion Christians?

(The following is the March 11 devotional from my Next Step Devotions book. Before reading it, I suggest you read Luke 6 and pay close attention to verses 46-49.)

Over two billion people identify as Christians. More than a quarter of all people on the planet presumably call Jesus “Lord.” But are there that many genuine Christians? Jesus distinguished those who merely call him Lord from those who obey him as Lord. The former number is far greater than the latter.

What does it mean to be a Christian? Is someone a Christian because they are a church member or baptized? Are people Christian because of their beliefs, the religious tradition they grew up in, or some spiritual experience they had years ago? Or is one a Christian because he recognized his sin, repented, trusted in Christ, and now surrenders daily to the lordship of Christ and obedience to his Word? If we disagree on what it means to be a Christian, we won’t agree on who is one. Church membership numbers are easy to report. Identifying the number of transformed and obedient hearts is something only God can perfectly do.

Jesus asked, “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and don’t do the things I say?” (v. 46). His subsequent statements emphasized the necessity of obeying him – not just calling him Lord. Anything less is mere lip service and not saving faith.

What is the “doing” that Jesus requires? Whatever the Word of God says. We do not have the luxury of creating a custom religion consisting of teachings and behaviors we like, condemning those we dislike, and still calling it Christianity. Jesus is the one who defines what Christians believe and how we live, and he has done so in the Bible. Any custom religion we design is not biblical Christianity.

Submitting to the authority of Christ and his Word may not be easy, but it is what he demands. “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and don’t do the things I say?”

Next Step:

Are there New Testament teachings you dismiss and choose not to believe or follow? How would your beliefs and behavior need to change if you accepted these teachings as God’s authoritative Word?

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