Monday, October 18, 2010

Part 3: The Christian Faith: What are the tell-tale signs that a person has been "saved" [is a Christian believer]? (10/17/10)

Christ Himself upon a couple of occasions related to His followers, the characteristics of genuine discipleship. Towards the end of His ministry and [earthly] life, Jesus intimately spoke to His disciples about the “marks” of Christian identity.

The first characteristic is a measurement whereby non-Christians would judge Christians: “… this will all men know that you are my disciples; if you have love for one another.”
John 13:34-35

The second characteristic was the test, whether His followers adhered to His direction: “…..If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed…..” John 8:31-32

How can a Christian assure himself of being a true believer?

The New Testament Epistle of 1 John 1-5 lays out a number characteristics (or, “marks”) whereby Christians can examine their life of faith. Please note that the following list is not necessarily conclusive and not necessarily in descending order:

1) Belief in Christ: "Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves Him who begot also loves him who is begotten of Him." 1 John 5:1

2) Belief that Christ has come in the flesh:
"By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world." 1 John 4:2-3

3) Obeying (keeping; treasuring) Christ’s commandments: "Now he who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him…." -- 1 John 3:24 ; Note: John 2:7-11

4) Christians will not engage in continual [lifestyle] sinning: "Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness. But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin. No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him. Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. He who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. He who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil's work. No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God's seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God." 1 John 2:4-9 – NIV

"This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us." 1 John 1:5-10

5) Abiding in God’s love: "And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him." 1 John 4:16

"My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth." 1 John 3:18

6) Loving the brethren in “deed and in truth:”
"We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death. Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth." 1 John 3:14-18

7) The testimony of the Holy Spirit living within: Now he who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. And by this we know that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us. 1 John 3:19 – See also: 1 John 4:13 ; Romans 8:9-17

8) Baptism in accordance with Christ’s [most necessary] Command: Matthew 28:18-20 ; Mark 16:15-16 ; Acts 8:26-40 and Acts 16:1-34 -- in accordance with Christ’s [most necessary] Command. Matthew 28:18-20 ; Mark 16:15-16 ; Acts 8:26-40 and Acts 16:1-34

Christ’s disciples will be continually tempted and face persecution:

If you are a Christian and you are facing daily temptations – that is normal. If you battle your sinful inclinations – that is also normal. If you feel [sinfully] pressured by the politically correct society and culture, – that also is very normal. The Scriptures speak of of three groups of negative spiritual forces [enemies]. They are: The devil; [1 Peter 5:8-9] the world; [Romans 12:2] and the sinful human nature. Romans 7:1f

Christ promised His disciples, persecution:

It is so simple within our politically correct charged culture and society to feel “out of the ‘loop.’” But, would you rather be a friend of the “world” or, an enemy of God? [James 4:4 ; 1 John 2:15-17] God never promised that being Christ’s disciple would be comfortable. [John 15:18-21 ; 2 Timothy 3:12] Beware when no one criticizes your beliefs and lifestyle. You then had better question your Christian beliefs, practice and testimony, whether they meet Christ’s approval. Luke 6:26 ; Matthew 7:13-29 ; John 3:14-21

Being Christ’s disciple is worth the present circumstances and the future eternal gain:

The Apostle Paul writing [Scripture] under the “inspirational” direction of the Holy Spirit, affirmed the Christian Faith and life in this perspective – far better than I could ever explain:

Philippians 3:7-14 – “But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, and be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” [KJV]

2 Timothy 4:6-8 – “For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.” [KJV]


Please note the two previous messages on "The Christian Faith:"

This Week’s Related Scriptures -- Intended to be utilized in a simple worship format:

New Testament Christian Scriptures:

Hebrews 11:1f Faith, defined and illustrated

Hebrews 12:1fThe Christian Faith – exemplified by Christ; His chastening for the Christian’s good; exhortation and warning against apostasy

Of Whom Does the Prophet Speak" -- by Victor Buksbazen -- an in-depth view of Isaiah 53:1f and the prophecy of Christ, hundred of years before his birth. Isaiah 53:1f underscores the truthfulness of Divine Revelation as exemplified in the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures.

Pastor (Emeritus) Nathan Bickel – Bay City, MI

Please also note:

The "Words in Season" topical messages and related worship format are not intended to discourage or replace the Christian worship and assembly of Christians at their particular places of church worship. As this website's author, it is my prayer and hope, that many souls will find the topical messages, related worship format and other material, a useful and valuable Christian resource.