S-T-R-A-I-G-H-T T-A-L-K T-O T-E-E-N-S
So here we go again.
Yep, I’m back. As I said last time, there’s a lot of people out there after your allegiance and heart, and I intend to get in on the action. I covet you for Christ. In other words, I don’t want you to become converted to anyone other than Jesus. And if you’re already hitched to something, I want you to get unhitched so you can fasten yourself to Christ. Because anyone or anything other than Jesus is a dead end street. A story with a sad ending. Empty promises and much pain. Lots of mouth but no stuff.
But Jesus ain’t like that. He can back up what He says. Hey, there’s no One bigger than Jesus.
And that brings me to the question I got for you: IF NOT, WHY NOT?
Yeah, you got it. That’s my question. If not, why not? If you’re not a Christian, why don’t you become one? There’s a proverb that says, “He who answers before listening – that is his folly and his shame.” In other words, only an airhead would reject something before really considering it. Hey, you give so much fuss and attention to things of lesser importance – what you wear and how you look and do people really like me and stuff like that. But I’m talking about your future. Hey, not just old age, but your eternal future. I mean if you believe there’s even a chance of life after death, don’t you think you should give my question serious consideration? Jesus says if you reject Him your eternal future will be a nightmare. So I ask again: if not, why not? If you’re not a Christian – that is, if you are not walking with Jesus – why don’t you become one? What prevents you from repenting of your sins and bowing to the lordship of Christ? You have heard the gospel before and rejected it. Why? Perhaps the reason is….. Christians.
Yeah. Maybe that’s it. Maybe you don’t want to be a Christian because of Christians – AND those who you think are Christians but are not.
You know, Christians take the rap for those who call themselves Christians but are no such thing. You think, perhaps, that everyone that goes to church must be a Christian? Hey, you’re dead wrong. Just because you see some guy standing in a garage, that doesn’t make him a mechanic. And just because you see people going to church, that doesn’t make them Christians. Hey, most people who go to church are not Christians (but at the same time, most Christians do go to church).
Some go to church simply because it’s the thing to do. Mom and Dad went so I guess I should go too. Or perhaps they think this is the way to get on God’s good side. Hey, the guys that spit in Jesus’ face and had him crucified all went to ‘church’.
Hey, a story. There was this ruler and warrior, a good guy who lived in medieval Europe, who heard about this dude who had the same name. Now this dude wasn’t so nice. Which caused a bad reflection on himself. So this warrior catches up to the bad dude and says, “Hey Dude, either change your ways or change your name!”
Sounds like a reasonable request to me.
Counterfeit Christians are a bad reflection on real Christians. Which is a bad reflection on Christ. But unfortunately there isn’t a mighty warrior that’s going to make them change their name. That’s why so many of us call ourselves ‘born-again’ Christians, to differentiate between us and the others.
What is a born-again Christian? Hey, good question! Thought you would never ask. A born-again Christian is a real Christian. He is an adopted child of God, a co-heir with Christ. And he became one because God made him one.
Only God can give life. And He will give that life to whoever will come to Him on His terms. What is His terms? The answer – the only answer – is Christ. Christ is God’s plan of salvation. Christ is the door that leads into God’s kingdom and family. Christ is the entrance into a new life.
One cannot make oneself a Christian. But one can come to Christ. When one comes to Christ, God births in that person a new spiritual life. It is a second birth, whereby one is born “of the Spirit.” Thus one is born-again.
So I’m talking about an experience. Do you get it? Something happens. Something deep and real and very good. When one is born of the Spirit of God, the Spirit moves in and makes that person’s body His dwelling place. Don’t ask me how, but He does. The Bible says, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you received from God?”
If a person has never been born of the Spirit of God, and therefore does not have the Holy Spirit dwelling within him, he is not a real Christian. Now that statement makes a lot of ‘Christians’ mad but this is supposed to be straight talk and I tell it the way that it is. So listen up, will you?
A real Christian is a follower of, and a believer in, Jesus Christ. A Christian follows after, or emulates, Jesus. And he does so by the power of the Holy Spirit who lives inside him. He believes in Jesus – no, not just believes with his head that Jesus is real or even that He is the Son of God and that He died for our sins – but “with the heart, man believes unto righteousness.” (Rom. 10:10) WITH THE HEART.
If you believe in your heart that a chair is strong enough to support you, you will sit in (entrust yourself to) that chair. And if you believe in your heart that Jesus can save you from your sins and give you a much better life than the one you now have, you will entrust yourself to Him. You will submit to Him – that is, obey Him. And serve Him. You will stop leaning on other things and other people and start leaning on Jesus. You will come to know Him and to love Him – more than anyone, even friends and family.
A Christian is one who is converted to Jesus. He has surrendered his life to Him. He is no longer his own boss but Jesus is now his boss (lord). He no longer does what he wants, but rather what Jesus commands. And he trusts Christ, and Christ alone, to save him from the punishment his sins have earned him. That’s what a real Christian is.
Perhaps you have been disillusioned by those you thought were Christians but are not. They are, you say, no different than everybody else. But what about real Christians? Yes, you admit, there really is something different about these guys. And yet, perhaps, they too disappoint you occasionally. Sometimes Christians are themselves the reason why people do not become Christians. Let’s look at it.
Let’s do a bit of supposing. Suppose you make a decision to accept Christ as Lord and Savior. You become “born again” of the Spirit of God, a new creature in Christ. You become God’s very own daughter or son. You are now the apple of His eye. Your sins are washed away, and for the first time in your life you are clean. You feel different inside, and indeed you are different because the Holy Spirit has taken up residence within you. You know in your heart all is well. You are safe and secure in His everlasting arms. (That’s pretty good supposing, isn’t it?)
So now you are perfect, right? Now that you are a Christian you would never do anything dishonorable, would you? Wrong.
Wrong. Just because you became a Christian doesn’t mean you will not make mistakes. Maybe small mistakes, maybe big ones. Perhaps you will sin against God – that is, do something you know God disapproves of. You won’t always be as loving and patient as you should be. Yes, God is changing you by the power of His Holy Spirit, but in the meantime you sometimes behave like before. You face the same frustration all Christians face – you want to be perfect for Christ’s sake, but you know you are not.
Now let’s suppose your friends are watching you. Hey, let’s check this guy out! Sometimes they will be impressed. Yeah, he’s changed all right. But other times they may be disappointed and use that for an excuse not to accept your Jesus. Hey, I ain’t going to be no phony Christian!
It happens. I know I have disappointed unsaved friends and relatives. If I were a more loving and generous person some of them would be Believers today. If only I had prayed more. If only I had given more of my time. If only I had loved deeper…..
The point is this: Christianity is conversion to Christ, not conversion to Christians. Every Christian fails periodically. I have many times. I mean many times. I don’t know a Christian that hasn’t. But that just demonstrates the love of Christ. He has never rejected me when I asked forgiveness. He has never said, “Hey, I’m getting tired of your failures and your selfishness.” He loves so deeply. He is trustworthy. That is why in the Bible He is called a Rock.
So many times we Christians are hindrances to others. But let’s look at the other side of the coin. If it were not for Christians you would never hear the gospel of Christ. If it were not for their prayers of intercession your chance of entering the kingdom of God are minute. There are many heroes, giants of the faith, who have laid down their life for the sake of the precious gospel. There are some who wet their pillows at night, crying out for the salvation of men, asking God to move by the power of His Spirit over the souls of men and women, to rescue them from the kingdom of darkness, and draw them into the kingdom of God. I know Christians who have sold their homes and possessions and headed out to other countries, sometimes subjecting themselves and their children to poverty lifestyles, just so they can tell others about Christ. And why? Why would they care so much, sacrifice so much? Because…..
They know. They know the value of your soul. They know how much God loves you. They know about heaven. They know about hell. They know of the blood that flowed down Calvary’s cross in payment for your sins. They know there is one who hates you and desperately wants to drag you into the hell that awaits him. They know what it’s like to be set free of sin. They know what it’s like to have fellowship with God. That’s why they care. That’s why I care.
The Spirit of God is bidding you, wooing you, drawing you to Himself, and has been all your life. You have many times felt His magnetic pull, His gentle persuasion, His loving call, but until now you have withheld yourself from Him. He is the Father with outstretched hands, and you the child who refused.
But you can change all that. There is an alternative. That alternative has a name. His name is Jesus.
Jesus can make sense out of your life. He can turn it around. Hey, when we talk about Christ we are talking about the one who made you. It was Jesus who put you here. It is Jesus who sustains you, keeps you alive. And it was Jesus who paid the price of your sins so you could be part of His eternal kingdom. You owed a debt you could not pay; He paid a debt He did not owe. Jesus knows you better, loves you more, is more concerned for your well-being than anyone else.
If you don’t go with Jesus, where will you go? Who will you walk with? Who will you trust in? Who will take care of you?
So think about it. I mean really think about it. It’s your life.