Recently, athlete and TV personality Bruce Jenner decided to live his life as a woman. During a television interview, he described how he’s always felt like a woman trapped in a man’s body. Do feelings matter?
In 2013, California Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation into law that empowers public school children to reassign their gender as they see fit. In fact, the U.S. Department of Justice recently compelled the Arcadia School system to make special accommodations for transgendered school children who wish to reassign from a girl to a boy or a boy to a girl, ruling that the student’s gender is whatever they feel it is. What makes a man a man, or a woman a woman? Is it physical appearance, genetics, biology, or feelings?
What if I decide in my heart of hearts that I am a Native American trapped in a Caucasian body? What if I come to believe in my heart of hearts that I am a member of the Pechanga Band? Would feeling it make it so, no matter how sincere I felt? Should I sue to obtain my rightful share of casino profit sharing?
A recent survey taken indicated that 77% of American self-identify as Christian. However, some of those polled did not believe that Jesus Christ ever existed. A number of those surveyed did not believe that Jesus Christ was resurrected. Others surveyed believed that Jesus wrongly taught that He was the only way to heaven and He was not the way, the truth, or the life---and that there were many ways to heaven besides Jesus. Still others did not believe in God or an afterlife. But all these people felt they were Christians. Do such feelings matter? Does feeling it make it so? What does Jesus say?
"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?' And then will I declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness." (Matthew 7:21-23).
Jesus says a few things that should cause us to examine our relationship with and our claim on Him. First, Jesus says that not everyone who believes they know Him, or calls Him Lord will enter into the Kingdom of Heaven (verse 21): “Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 7:21).” Maybe these folks (the “not everyone’s”) are the rare exception. The trouble is that verse 22 indicates otherwise: “On that day many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?” Could it be that many if not most people get it wrong?
Does feeling you’re a Christian make you a Christian? It looks like the “many” in verse 22 do a lot of religious things: prophesy in Jesus’ name, cast out demons in Jesus’ name, and perform many mighty works in Jesus name. Doesn’t that count for something? What does Jesus say? “And then will I declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness (v. 23).”
In verse 23, He shows us that our feelings don’t assure salvation (I never knew you; depart from me). These people felt strongly that they belonged to Jesus, but He rejects them---“I never knew you.” He dismisses them from His sight---“depart from Me.” Then He labels everything they did in His name as “lawlessness.”
It is not our feelings that assure us of our salvation. It is not our claim on Christ, but His claim on us. These people call Him Lord 4 times. Three times they declare they’ve done religious activity befitting of salvation. They feel like Christians like Bruce Jenner believing he’s a woman, or me believing I’m a Native American. But just believing that you’re a Christian doesn’t make it so. So what does? Jesus provides the answer in Matthew 7:21b: “"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” Is this about “works”---earning one’s way to heaven? Nope. It’s about a devotion to God that is so strong that it reveals the presence and existence of genuine saving faith. It’s the kind of devotion demonstrates a faith that puts God’s will ahead of our own. We are saved through faith, not works (Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:5). But that faith produces fruit in a genuine believer’s life and it shows a desire to be habitually submitting to and surrendered to God.
This is a faith that produces a desire in me to deny myself daily, take up my cross and follow Christ no matter the cost (Matthew 16:24). I can stand in a pulpit, but that doesn’t make me a Christian any more than standing in a restaurant makes me a hamburger. Neither does teaching a class, handing out bulletins or singing in a choir. Are you trusting Christ to the point that you’d go anywhere He wanted to take you and give up anything He asked you to? It’s that kind of devotion that points to a genuine saving faith. Are you willing to surrender your will, your rights, and your past, present and future to Jesus? If you haven’t already, do it now. Ask Him to come into your heart and save you because just feeling it does not make it so. Entrust yourself to Christ by repenting of your sin and turning to Him for salvation.
Posted on Thu, May 28, 2015
by Sam Petitfils