What was it in this passage that Paul hoped all who were listening would become? Christians? Well, not exactly. For a word that is only mentioned three times in the entire Bible, have you ever considered how much value, or weight, we give the “Christian” label? You will hear it in every church across America, “Now if you’re a Christian then you are a child of God and you live with His Spirit”. The problem is, not only can that not be substantiated anywhere in scripture, it just does not make any sense. God’s Word does not boil salvation down to picking the right team or even simply believing in the existence of the One true God. Just because “Christians” are those who have correctly identified the Lord Almighty has no bearing as to whether their heart is fully surrendered to God! Claiming yourself to be a “Christian” will not get you into heaven! Living with Christ’s Spirit will! Being a “Christian” does not make one a child of God! You do not receive Christ’s Spirit by giving yourself a label, performing some meaningless traditions/rituals, or even praying some specially designed prayer created by man. You receive the Holy Spirit by giving your life to Christ; and walking obediently to His commands is proof positive that you indeed have! Moreover, when you understand sanctification as the lifelong process of “working out your salvation with fear and trembling” (earnestly seeking the Lord, diligently striving to grow and mature in Christ, and wholeheartedly committing to persevere in Him till the end) you are much less likely to think that you are something that you’re not. (Gal. 6:3) Only then will you have the proper perspective required to be victorious! (Rev. 2:7)
There are over one-hundred million professing Christians in this country alone, some of which most certainly have fully surrendered their hearts to Christ and truly live with His Spirit, but many others have indeed not! But my point is this, giving yourself a label has no bearing on where one’s heart truly is with the Lord! And to suggest otherwise is rather foolish! If you want to use the biblically correct label in trying to distinguish who it is that lives with Christ’s Spirit and will be called God’s children then a “disciple of Christ” would be the label that would be used, but a “Christian” was simply a “mocking” name given by the Jewish people to those who followed Jesus. The name stuck, and that is great, but “prescribing salvation” based on that name is not! So, let us go back to the opening scripture regarding what it is that the Apostle Paul is “praying to God that all become”…
Paul’s mission was not simply in getting people to believe that Jesus is the Way, his purpose was in getting believers to live that Way! (1 Cor. 15:2) This speaks to the difference between believing “in” God, and believing God! Deceiving us into believing that these two are the same is possibly Satan’s greatest deception. The reality is, there is a world of difference between the two. One simply puts one on par with the demons (James 2:19), and the other, brings the gift of eternal Life! The problem is when we mistake everyone who simply believes that Jesus is the Son of God as a child of God, we contradict what it is exactly that the Word of God says! (John 8:31-32) God’s Word makes clear, repeatedly, that it is those who believe what He says and obey His Word that will be called His children. (2 Thess. 1:8, Heb. 5:8-9) Scripture never suggests that simply believing that He exists is enough scripture makes clear that it is not! (Matt. 7:21, Heb. 4:2)
If you study scripture from Gen 1 – Rev. 22-21 John 3:16 is not referring to simply believing that Jesus exists, what the phrase “believe in Him” means, is to believe what Jesus said! However, we are quick to label all who profess to believe in His existence as “Christians” then we go on to claim that that label carries with it the gift of eternal life. Again, it is not possible that a label that we give someone results in God’s Spirit being bestowed upon them! And when you claim that it does, then you offer a false hope, provide a false power, suggest a false freedom, promise a false union, and deliver a false spirit! Do these expressions feel familiar to any “Christians” out there who raised their hand and prayed the “sinner’s prayer”, but had absolutely no true circumcision of the heart and therefore experienced no power of His Spirit, no true freedom, or no new creation?
A label can never provide the power to “commend oneself before God”. (2 Cor. 10:18) No matter how much we might wish that the Christian label can do that for us, the reality is that a Christian is someone who professes to “believe in Jesus”; a child of God however is someone who has given their life to Jesus! For sure we are all created by God, but we are not all God’s children, according to His Word! (1 John 3:6-10) As I hope that I have made clear, there is a HUGE difference between meeting your church’s condition to wear the “Christian” label, and meeting the Lord’s condition to bear His Spirit within your heart! Again, Paul’s hope was not in simply getting folks to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, his mission was in teaching believers the eternal value in giving their lives to Christ… becoming Christ’s disciples!
Yet, the focus of the church message today is in producing “Christians” rather than in producing subjects who earnestly desire to turn from sin, grow/mature in Christ, and walk in His Light. The Lord commissioned us to go and make disciples rather than to go and make “Christians” because His Word reveals that only the disciple of Christ will produce the fruit of His kingdom! God doesn’t desire that we have seven billion “Christians” on earth, God desires that He can find anyone who truly has a heart for God on earth… one who truly loves Him with all their heart, mind, soul, and strength! Slaves of righteousness are who He desires, hearts that are fully devoted to turning from the ways of wickedness, and walk in His love, that is what pleases Him.
My hope is that the church will stop focusing on the preoccupation of trying to “secure our salvation” and get back to focusing on the concerns of God. Your salvation is attained in chasing after God with all your heart, not by following the many myths of man and traditions of the church. If there is one thing that I am confident of, one thing that I know for certain to be true, it is that Jesus is the Way! It confuses people when I take such a strong position against the church message today, those who are not well versed in scripture perceive me to be against the Christian religion. But that is absurd! I want nothing more than Jesus being preached, but I do fear that what “Christianity” has become may be alienating many believers’ hearts from Christ! I simply want pastors to preach the Word and stop delivering Satan’s deceptive message of a false grace! I realize that pastors are blind to their false teaching (for the most part), but that does not make it right nor does that mean that there are no eternal consequences for believing their deception! Here is the problem: salvation is not something that God gave man the authority to ordain. God gave us His Word, Jesus is His Word in the flesh, and living according to His Word IS your salvation! For it is those who believe God that will turn from sin and wickedness! Being a child of God is to hate sin and the darkness that prevents one from entering into His Light. Simply believing in the existence of Jesus does not cleanse your sins, believing what Jesus said does. Believing Jesus will lead you to a genuine repentance, which then enables His blood to cleanse you! Being a child of God is NOT perverting the grace of God into a license for immorality! (Jude 1:4)
Again, salvation is not believing that Jesus exists; salvation is living the life of Jesus while you exist! Jesus wants to be your life, not your idol. God’s Word is perfect, it provides the proper motivation for man to live with the fear of the Lord that will always lead them right to the Father! Man’s word is imperfect, it will always provide comfort to your life of sin and provide the proper motivation for man to concern himself with matters of “self”. The only way to live a self-denied life for Christ is to die to self! (Gal. 2:20) Dying with Christ to sin is the only way to free yourself from sin; and that is the requirement, the condition found in God’s Word for receiving His Spirit! Understanding that reality, as it applies to you personally, requires revelation from God through His Word, and that revelation is only given to those who earnestly seek Him and desire to serve His will. But today, the church claims to have a different path to “salvation”; one that does not require going to the funeral of your own independence!
The false teaching within the church has rendered Christians a stumbling block to the world! Believing the lie, Christians believe that their eternal security is found in Satan’s deception, therefore their walk by and large profanes the Lord’s Holy Name! Understand that I am not suggesting that all Christians are on their way to hell for goodness sake! However, I am suggesting that eternal salvation will have absolutely nothing to do with the “Christian” label that you give yourself, nor is it attained by the works we do; rather your salvation will depend completely upon whether or not “you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance” to Christ. Are you still a slave to sin, or have you become a slave to righteousness? If you are looking for an answer as to where you currently stand regarding your eternal fate, this is your best measure!
The “freedom” that the church promises to those who buy into a false teaching does not provide the power of God to free you from sins; hence most Christians still living in bondage to sin. True FREEDOM is only found through His Spirit! (2 Cor. 3:17, John 8:31-32) And He is not received by any means other than by meeting His Conditions! (Luke 14:25-27) You cannot simply believe in His existence strong enough to receive Him, you cannot simply want Him enough to receive Him. You can only receive Him by giving your life to Him! That is when you experience His freedom and experience the inexpressible joy in following His commands! Nothing else will suffice! Fear the Lord!
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