But I want to be crystal clear. Acknowledging Jesus does not equate to having faith in Him. When confronted by someone who asks you about Christianity and you respond that you “believe” in Jesus but that response is simply some knee jerk reaction to some long forgotten childhood upbringing and not a byproduct of having “a daily walk” with Him, you are just acknowledging Him. If you simply ask others to pray for this person you know or that situation you are aware of, but your life bears no fruit of actually believing that He can make a difference in YOUR life, then you are simply acknowledging Him. It’s the spiritual equivalent to the “nod of acknowledgement” done by high-school boys walking up and down the hallway. And this is a dangerous place to be. You need to prepare yourself.
Matthew 7:21-23 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’
**See also Rev. 3:14-22
Many might respond by saying that this statement is based in fear, and God is love and love drives out fear; a sentiment derived from 1 John 4:18. And you would be correct, though misguided and I would say you’ve missed the larger point John was making. Even simply reading the rest of the verses around it (and the small book as a whole), you would see that this love is in the context of abiding in Christ- a faithful trusting, a leaning your entire being on and in Him day to day. At this point you should also continue reading the first few verses of 1 John 5 and come to grips with the correlation of those who love Him are those who follow His commandments.
The “fear” some are trying so hard to dismiss easily is the same sort of thing that we can think about in a marriage. Saying I love Carla doesn’t give me the opportunity to sin or live unfaithfully day-to-day. If I say I love my wife and cheat on her, sleep around with other women, go behind her back and flirt with everyone, and I don’t have any fear… I would be a fool. That’s an extreme example, but the same applies if I were to tone it down some. If I say I love my wife but when we meet someone new, I introduce her by saying, “Oh! Her? Oh she’s just my wife,” and I have no fear… Again, I’m a fool. A certain fear of only acknowledgement rather than being devoted to my wife helps remind me of what love looks like, what abiding looks like.
Acknowledging Jesus is not confession. It isn’t commitment. It isn’t submitting to His Lordship in your life. It certainly isn’t a faith that saves. Come ask me questions about how to turn the corner in your spiritual life and gain fervor for having an actual relationship with the One True God. Admit that you are a sinner. Believe that God sent Jesus to pay for your sins. Commit your life to Him. Whether you see this as the Easiest Hard Decision you’ll ever have to make or the Hardest Easy Decision you’ll ever have to make, make today be the day you answer life’s most fundamental question.