Imagine the shock of spending your whole life on earth as a follower of Jesus Christ, only to be told by Him, “I never knew you. Depart from me, you who practice lawlessness!” Are you saved? Are you sure? Can you prove it? In his legendary style of gunslinger writing, author Rick Baker dissects the 71 words of Jesus found in Matthew 7:21-23 and paints a sometimes frightening picture of who these people really are. I Never Knew You is a must read for anyone who claims Jesus Christ as their Savior, because in the end it doesn’t matter if we know Jesus Christ, only that He knows us.
your Signed copy today!
Barnes & Noble.com
order book at rickgbaker.com
Chapter 1: You’re a Christian; I’m a Christian; Heck, We’re All Christians!
Gallup says that seventy-seven percent of Americans claim to be “Christians.” According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the population of the United States in November of 2009 was 304,059,724, which means that there are over 234,000,000 “Christian” Americans.
Another recent study conducted by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion entitled “Young People Less Tied to Organized Religion” finds that while organized religion is at a “50-year low among young people, eight in ten Americans still describe themselves as Christian.” The definition of Christian, however, has changed. “There’s an openness to what a Christian is,” according to Greg Smith, one of the researchers who conducted the study. “These Christians may borrow meditation practices from Buddhism or believe in the Hindu understanding of reincarnation.”
Is America really 75 to 80 percent Christian? Hardly.
Many people claim to be Christians, and many probably believe that they truly are followers of Christ—such as Progressive Christians—even though they are not. One day they are going to be rocked to their very being when Jesus says to them, “Get away from me, I have never even met you!”
The word “Christian” has been thrown around for centuries, but never before has it been as misused as it is today. It seems that if you have a family with a couple of kids and two cars in your garage, then you’re a Christian. Maybe you help at your local soup kitchen, give money to the homeless, or teach a Bible Study at your church. Those actions also make you a Christian.
I remember well when one of my five thousand friends on Facebook responded to an editorial I had written, where I made the case that a true Christian could not endorse a president who supported abortion. She posted that, “Everyone has a different definition of what a Christian is, Rick. I am a Christian, and I love Jesus, but I also don’t see anything wrong with supporting a president who funds abortions.”
It was her “everyone has a different definition of what a Christian is,” that got my attention. She was right. It does seem that there is no longer one precise definition for the word Christian.
According to Diana Eck’s “A New Religious America,” our country has now become “The most profusely religious nation on earth,” with the major religion being that of Christianity.
Those who claim to be Christians range from Baptists to Lutherans, Anglicans to Presbyterians, Anabaptists to Brethren, Methodists to Pentecostals to Mormons, and the list goes on and on.
Did you know that there are at least forty-seven different kinds of Baptists in the US? There are American Baptists, Conservative Baptists, Free Will Baptists, General Baptists, Southern Baptists, Reformed Baptists, Primitive Baptists, and at least forty other types of Baptists in our country who all adhere to the same basic Christian truth, that salvation is through Jesus Christ alone.
Some Baptists believe in the Pre-trib pretrib Rapture, others don’t. Some practice foot washing, others don’t. Some are five-point Calvinists, while others believe in ordaining women. Some don’t believe in eternal security, and others practice speaking in tongues. It is mind-boggling to me how so many grown adults can get caught up in trivial theological principles that don’t mean anything when it comes to our eternity.
One might ask the logical question, “If all of these people believe precisely that Jesus died for their sins and that He is the only way to their salvation, why the heck can’t they just all get along and worship together?”
I wonder what denomination Jesus would affiliate Himself with were He to come back and attend a church? None of them, I hope.
It is easy to call yourself a Christian in today’s church society as well. You go to church, maybe even tithe once in a while. You say grace when you dine, believe in God, and try to be the best person you can be for your family and friends. You believe that a person named Jesus lived a couple of thousand years ago and that He was a good man. You believe you are a Christian, and you tell Gallup that you are when polled. But are you really? Not even close.
To define the word “Christian,” we need to get back to the original definition of the word. Any word has no meaning unless it is somehow defined. To define “Christian” requires us to return to the first century, where it was first used. We must do this because spineless pastors and theologians have changed the meaning of this word, especially in the past fifty years.
Take, for example, the word, “gay.” Fifty years ago, this word meant “happy or jolly.” A gay person was a positive person, always smiling and loving life. Today, if you say you are “gay,” you are saying something very, very different.
So here’s a bit of history:. The word “Christian” comes from the Greek word Christianos which is simply translated as, “follower of Christ.”
To follow Christ, we must know who He was and what He expects of us today. The only place we find these principles is in the Bible. There is no other accepted recorded history that writes of Jesus and what He demands from us.
The first recorded use of the term “Christian” is found in the New Testament, in Acts 11:26, which states, “…in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians.” The second mention of the term follows in Acts 26:28, where Herod Agrippa II replies to Paul the Apostle, “Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?” The third and final New Testament reference to the term is in 1 Peter 4:16, which exhorts believers, “…if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.”
Most scholars believe the term was applied to Christ’s followers by their critics but, regardless of who used it first, it is a simple definition: “follower of Christ.” You are a true Christian if you follow Christ, if you strive to be like Jesus, regardless of your denominational background. You don’t have to be a scholar, a pastor, or have gone to a Bible college. You simply need to follow Christ, which of course, pre-supposes that we know who He was, what He did for us, and what He expects of us today. One cannot follow Christ without attempting to put Him into practice in our lives today. Nor can one follow Christ without learning about Him from the Bible. If you don’t believe the Bible, you cannot be a follower of Christ. It’s really that simple. The followers of the new Progressive Christian movement, for example, discount many of the miracles of Jesus and choose to focus mostly on “loving everyone.” These are not true followers of Christ and, therefore, not Christians at all.
Let’s follow this truth logically: To claim you are Christian means you have an accurate definition of the word, which only comes from the Bible and no other recorded history. To pick and choose only the parts that you like from the very document that defines what you claim to be changes the accurate definition of that word and leaves you blowing in the winds of change, not truth.