Does saying, "I'm a Presbyterian" or "I'm a Baptist" or even "I'm a Christian" make you a Christian?
I grew up going to church. My parents took me to church and I attended Sunday School at Yeamans Hall Presbyterian Church in Hanahan, SC. You know what I remember from being at that church...I remember going bowling with the youth group, singing with the children's choir (Jesus is the Rock and He rolls my blues away) with sunglasses on, being an angel in the live nativity at Christmas time, and eating cookies in the fellowship hall after each service. My dad sang in the choir at that church and, when I was in middle school, my mom began working as the Christian Educator at that church. We were a family who was active in the church, so I was a Christian, right?
As a baby I was baptized and when I was a little older confirmed. I believed in God and I knew who Jesus was. When I was old enough, I attended all the youth functions. Each summer, I went to summer camp. One summer, I was a youth delegate at the Presbyterian General Assembly and another summer I even went on a mission trip to Mexico with my church. So, I was a Christian then, right?
While I was at Winthrop, I attended the campus ministry events, worked in the nursery at one of the local churches, became a camp counselor at Montreat (which is a Christian conference center), and even got hired to run a children's summer program at Clover Presbyterian Church. I definately had to be a Christian then, right?
After I graduated from college, I moved back to Charleston and I attended church regularly and volunteered with the Junior High youth group. Was I a Christian then?
Mark and I got married and moved to Jacksonville, FL. We found a Methodist Church that we joined and I helped out with Vacation Bible School, attended Sunday School, and even played handbells there. So, was I a Christian now?
I'm not implying that all these things I took part in aren't good things. They definately made me the person I am today and gave me experiences that led me to where I am today. What I am saying is that I wasn't a follower of Christ during all this time...the Bible says, "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God's workmanship created in Christ Jesus to do good works which God has prepared in advance for us to do." Ephesians 2:8-10
People can do things which the world considers "good" but until you are doing it for Christ, our Savior, it isn't really good by God's standard.