You Can Claim to Follow Jesus, But Miss the Point of Who He Is

No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also. (I John 2:23)

The church may be shrinking here in America, but despite this trend there’s no shortage of people who say they “believe in Jesus.” What exactly does that mean? It’s a question worth asking, especially in light of the fact the way many live seems to have no relationship at all with what they say they believe. Do the specifics of what we believe about Jesus really matter?

That’s the question Randy Alcorn asks in his devotional titled “You Can Claim to Follow Jesus, But Miss the Point of Who He Is.” I’m sure pretty much everyone who listens to KCWN would say they’re a follower of Jesus; if you’re reading this now I’m going to guess you’d claim to be a Christian! Alcorn starts his blog with this blunt statement:

There are a lot of people, friends, coworkers and extended family members who say they “believe in Jesus.” But what’s more important is what they actually believe about the Jesus they say they worship and follow.

He then cites some relevant examples - just last week my wife and I got a letter from a couple who are Jehovah’s Witnesses, people who claim to be followers of Jesus, but don’t believe in his divinity. In Seattle I had a close friend who was Mormon - he believed in Jesus, yet that belief denied that Jesus was in fact God himself.

Does it matter? Is what we believe about Jesus relevant to our salvation and walk with Christ? The Bible has something to say about this; in I John 2:23 we read: “No one who denies the Son has the Father; he who confesses the Son has the Father as well” In John 8:58, Jesus makes the stunning claim, “Before Abraham was born, I am!” The reaction of the Jews when they heard this? They picked up stones to kill Jesus for blasphemy, knowing he had just claimed to be God.

The Gospel of John in particular is full of claims made by Jesus himself about both his deity and exclusivity of the gospel message - there is just one way to the Father, and it’s through him. In my heart I believe these things are true, but it creates some problems when it comes to those who aren’t followers of Jesus. I hate confrontation, and I don’t like rocking the boat. I pray that God will show my unsaved friends the truth, but will I have the courage to tell them?

There was a time when I did have that courage, and gladly accepted the the fierce opposition I sometimes encountered in proclaiming the good news. As time went on and my friends continued to reject Jesus, discouragement set in and my fire died out… I want that fire back - because the eternity of people I love is at stake. I know I can’t save anyone, but I also know Jesus can change even the hardest heart!

So does what we believe about Jesus really matter? Absolutely! I’ll leave you with these words from Randy Alcorn:

If we get it right about Jesus we can afford to get some things wrong. If we get it wrong about Jesus, it won’t matter that we got a lot of other things right.