Eighty-three percent of all Americans identify themselves as Christians, yet the facts would suggest otherwise. Immorality, abortion, materialism, racism, drug and alcohol addiction, and divorce litter the landscape of this country. If the vast majority of people are Christians, why is evil so rampant?
I fear that millions of people will discover on Judgment Day that they were terribly deceived regarding their spiritual condition. Jesus proclaimed, “Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you, Away from me, you evildoers!’” (Mt. 7:22-23)
What greater tragedy could there be than to think one is right only to find out that one is wrong and suffer eternally the consequences!
Therefore, one of my chief concerns as a pastor is helping those who profess Christ with their lips discern if they are really saved. There are several evidences of being a Christian, but I believe the tell-tale sign has to do with one’s tongue. Those who know Christ tell others.
Remember when Peter and John were arrested after healing the paralyzed man at the temple gate? (see Acts 3:1 ff.) The religious authorities commanded them not to speak or teach in the name of Jesus. They replied, “Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s sight to obey you rather than God. For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard” (4:19-20). In other words, “We can’t help ourselves! We have to tell others the good news about this Jesus we met and who changed our lives!
This was certainly true for the Apostle Paul. He wrote in 2 Cor. 5:14 that the love of Christ “compelled”him. He was duty-bound, obligated, constrained, . . . forced! Forced to tell others. He couldn’t help it! He had what I call Obsessive Compulsive Gospel Disorder!
In another passage, Paul wrote, “Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!” (1 Cor. 9:16) Woe describes the greatest misery imaginable. It is like Paul saying, “I can’t think of anything worse.” It is more than an exclamation of grief; it is a proclamation of self-condemnation.
Yet consider this: A recent study conducted by LifeWay Research revealed that while 80 percent of those who attend church one or more times a month believe they have a personal responsibility to share their faith, only 39 percent actually told another person about how to become a Christian in the previous six months. Even more disturbing, the late Dr. Bill Bright of Campus Crusade for Christ contends that only 2 percent of Christians share their faith on a regular basis.
How can this be? Can someone actually be a Christian and not actively be sharing his or her faith? The very first thing Philip did upon meeting Christ personally was to find his friend Nathanael and tell him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote about—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph” (Jn. 1:45). I remember hearing one pastor saying, “If you are not fishing, you are not following.”
D.L. Moody (1837-1899), founder of the prestigious Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, came to Christ at age 18 at the urging of his Sunday School teacher. Immediately he began sharing his faith with family and friends. In fact, he determined never to let a day pass without telling someone the gospel of Jesus Christ. One night, about ten o’clock, he realized that he had not yet witnessed; so he got out of bed, got dressed, and in the Chicago snow, went out into the street and spoke to a man standing by a lamppost, asking him, “Are you a Christian?” The man flew into a violent rage and threatened to knock Moody into the gutter.
Three months later, Moody was awakened at the YMCA by a man knocking at the door. It was the same man to whom he had witnessed earlier. “I want to talk to you about my soul,” he said to Moody. He apologized for the way he had treated Moody and said that he had had no peace ever since that night when Moody witnessed to him. Moody led the man to Christ and he became a zealous worker in the Sunday school.
If you have experienced the love of Jesus, you will not be able to remain silent.
Ask yourself, “Am I really a Christian?”