Let's face it, we all have lots of people who we would call acquaintances, people we've met or people we may have had a conversation or two with, but how many really close friends do you have? I'm talking about the person you would go to when you are really in trouble, the one who really cares, who you KNOW you can trust. Most of us may only have one such person in our life, if we are lucky.
I came to Jesus late in life, but I came into the Kingdom with a bang!! I was so on fire for God I just assumed everyone who called themselves Christians would feel the same way I did. But I soon discovered that many, if not most Christians I met, didn't have a lot of zeal for God. It was disappointing to say the least. Now, twenty years later, after traveling from church to church here in the Bay Area, I am forced to the following conclusion. There are many people who profess to know God, people who can recite Scripture after Scripture, people who can even teach Sunday School and sometimes preach a pretty good sermon, people who may even be leading Bible Studies, but they truly don't know God. They don't have a relationship with Him at all.
And the sad thing is, I don't think many of them even realize it.
They profess to know God [to recognize, perceive, and be acquainted with Him], but deny and disown and renounce Him by what they do; they are detestable and loathsome, unbelieving and disobedient and disloyal and rebellious, and [they are] unfit and worthless for good work (deed or enterprise) of any kind. Titus 1:16 Amplified
Yikes, that's kinda scary, isn't it? And it flies in the face of what many of our western churches will tell us.. that all you need to do is "believe" in Jesus, repent of your sins, and you're in the club! Just say this prayer, repeat these words after me, and you're going to heaven! Oh, how crafty our enemy is!! He twists words and even the Scripture, plucking things out of context, planting lies in people's minds, getting them just enough off track that they are still swallowed in darkness, while they believe they are in the light.
They believe in their heads, but not in their hearts. They may read their Bibles just like we may read a magazine about our favorite movie star. They may know every detail about God, but they've never spent any time with Him. They've never done the hard work that every relationship requires. The hours of time that must be spent together, talking AND listening, searching the Scriptures for God's will and truth, crying in your Heavenly Father's arms. Is it possible to have a relationship and truly know an invisible God? Yes!! An emphatic Yes!!
James has much to say about people like this.
But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble! But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead? James 2:18-20
Disclaimer: I'm not saying that any of us can do anything to be saved!! We are saved by GRACE, not works. All I'm saying is if you are truly saved, there should be a change in your heart.
So, how do you know if you have just a head belief or a heart belief? Here's just a few questions I put together that might help you. This is not meant to discourage anyone or condemn anyone. And I certainly don't want to put anyone in fear. Also, if you don't answer yes to every question, that doesn't mean you don't know God. These are just guidelines.. We are all in different places in our walk. I can't answer yes to all of these, but I can answer yes to more of them than I used to!! The point is, if you are truly God's child and His Spirit lives in you, you should be changing.. you should be moving more toward answering yes to more of these questions every year.
- Do you consider reading the Bible a chore or is it something you look forward to?
- Do you look forward to your prayer time, to spending time with God?
- Do you make time everyday for God no matter how busy you are?
- Do you love talking about God with other Christians?
- Do you talk to God off and on all day long ?
- Do you love going to church and Bible Study?
- Do you listen to sermons on your own time or in the car?
- Do you find yourself singing praise songs during the day?
- Are you excited about Jesus's return or would you rather not think about it?
- Do you ache for the lost?
- Do you find yourself more interested in pleasing God than pleasing yourself?
- Have you noticed old habits and desires are fading and other things are becoming more important?
- Do old temptations and sins no longer interest you?
- Do the things of this world not hold the same fascination for you? Money, success, romance?
- When you're resting, what do you think most about?
- Do you find yourself caring more for others than you used to?
The above things are all indications of a changed heart. And only God can change a heart. Only the Holy Spirit inside of you can give you a zeal for God and the things of God. If you've been a "Christian" for awhile and you can honestly say that you haven't changed in any of these areas, then my suggestion is that you get alone with God, repent, and ask Him to save you, to fill you with His Spirit and change you. Then do the hard work. Spend time getting to know Him!