Many people call themselves believers and truly think that they are Christians. However, many of them are deceiving themselves and don’t actually believe.
To be a believer, a Christian, one must have an encounter with the living God that we call being “born agin.” You are born physically into the world but, to enter the Kingdom and have a relationship with the King, Jesus, you must be born again – born spiritually (John 3).
This happens when you hear the good news of who Jesus is and what Jesus accomplished by dying on the cross and being raised from the dead. As a person hears the Gospel the Holy Spirit convicts them of their sin (John 16:8-10) and they respond with godly sorrow and repentance (2 Corinthians 7:8-10). Then they ask for forgiveness, receive it, and are born again.
To be born again means receiving the gift of eternal life from God Himself (Romans 6:13b). This gift is the supernatural ability to have a personal, in-depth, unique, ever changing, love relationship wth God the Father and with Jesus whom He sent (John 17:3). This encounter and relationship changes our whole life as you become a new creature in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Then you embrace God and welcome Him into every aspect of your life. Jesus spoke these words to those who were religious and held to a set of rules that they thought made them ‘good’ with God… “But my Father is the One who will prove it and will glorify me. Isn’t he the One you claim is your God? But in reality, you’ve never embraced him as your own.” (John 8:54 The Passion Translation)
Before this Jesus commented…”I speak to you this eternal truth: whoever cherishes my words and keeps them will never experience death” (John 8:51 The Passion Translation).
So, if we will embrace God the Father and His Son Jesus – embrace Him as our God, our Lord, our Saviour – then we will believe the words that He has spoken and left for us in today’s Bible. Not only will we believe them, we will cherish them. We will actually apply His words to our lives and thus live differently. Our lifestyle, our words, our thoughts, our attitude, and the way we relate with people will be guided and directed by God and the words that He has spoken. A life that has totally changed will prove that we have had a real encounter with the living God. A life-changing encounter and a continuing daily relationship.
This is a heart thing. Being convicted by the Holy Spirit that leads to repentance is not a “head event.” Knowledge does not get us saved, born again. It is a heart event. So, a person can know the Gospel or Good News that “Jesus saves today” and still not be saved. They can know their Bible from front to back and still not be going to Heaven when they die. The words of Scripture must be “cherished” and embraced so that they become the foundation of our daily life. Knowledge is not enough – application is the key. You really only believe what you have applied and live.
So, there are many who attend church on a regular basis and understand the message of the Gospel but have not had a heart encounter with the Living God. They have never experienced conviction with godly sorrow and true repentance. And, Paul the apostle states. that “without repentance there is no salvation.” Thus, although they are good church attenders they are not true believers, true Christians, and so will not be welcomed into Heaven by a loving God when they die. They have not embraced God as their own.
Being a believer is more than knowing the truth. It is having had an encounter with the Living God and embracing Him and cherishing (and thus obeying) His Word.