Marcus Mumford wouldn’t call himself a Christian. At least he declined to do so during a Rolling Stone magazine interview. In that conversation, the award-winning songwriter and musician said that the word Christian is linked with religious images he doesn’t like. He compared himself to people who claim to love Christ and say that Jesus is awesome, but who are not Christians.

A writer once penned, “Any belief in Jesus Christ—however small—is far better than any belief about Him.” Nicodemus, the Jewish teacher who interviewed Jesus, clearly knew facts about Him. He correctly identified Jesus as a teacher, and said, “Your miraculous signs are evidence that God is with you” (John 3:2).

Jesus responded, “Unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God” (John 3:3). In other words, it’s not possible to gain admission to heaven by simply knowing the right facts about Christ. Even Satan’s henchmen correctly identified Him as the Son of God! (Luke 4:41).

According to Jesus, true salvation involves an encounter with the Holy Spirit: “The Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life” (John 3:6). And, the Bible says, “If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9).

Genuine faith in Christ means having a relationship with Him, not simply admiring Him. With this relationship comes the assurance that Jesus hears and responds to our prayers. He accepts our praises, empowers us to resist temptation, and provides eternal life. True believers in Jesus have a spiritual connection with Him. They have a “faith . . . far more precious than mere gold” (1 Peter 1:7).

NLT 365-day reading plan passage for today: 1 Samuel 17:32-58