The following was written by a friend from Our Final Authority. I pray it is as much of a blessing to you as it was to me! Enjoy ūüôā

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Who Are the Christians
by Lee Pierson

Answering two questions has helped me to understand Christianity and why modern Christians are not very Christian in nature. Answering these questions also tells me both why there are so many doctrinal differences, and why there is so much error and deviance from sound doctrine.

The two questions are:

1) What actually happens within us at the moment of salvation.

2 Corinthians 5:17
Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

 

2) What does it mean to worship in spirit and in truth?

John 4:23
But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.

 

When God opened my eyes to the answers of these questions, I discovered that even though I was saved and attending a good, Bible believing, and doctrinally-sound Church, I was poor, miserable, naked and blind!

Why are the answers to these questions so important?

Because there are three ways to worship God, and they are;

a) In the flesh (Worship in works, doing the right things)
b) In the soul (Which includes all things pertaining to self, i.e. mind, imagination, conscience self-righteousness etc.)
c) In the spirit (Communication with, and obedience to, God through his Word in repentance and humility)

Almost all of the modern-day Christians, are trying to worship God in the flesh trying to be good enough to be accepted by God; most of the rest worship Him in the soul using their imagination and feelings to determine what God expects out of them. I found that I fell in between worshiping in the flesh and worshiping in the soul, and that I had only glimpses from time-to-time of what it is like to worship in the spirit.

A man cannot worship God in His dead and rotting (corrupt) flesh ‚Äď Examples of these types of Christians includes Catholics, Mormons and all other works based religions, doctrines and philosophies. All true worship that is manifested in the flesh must be from, and in obedience to God, through submission to the leadership of the Holy Spirit that is residing in you and bearing witness with your spirit. In order for us to properly worship God, we must first crucify the flesh!

Romans 8:8
So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.

A man cannot worship God in the vileness of his soul ‚Äď Psychology, or other man made plans, steps or ideas, come out of the soul and mind of man. If it is out of the wisdom of man, or out of his own imagination, then it is useless in the worship of God. For us to be able to worship God we must deny self!

Romans 8:7
Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.

A man can only truly worship God from a quickened spirit, he must have the life in him that the Holy Spirit created at salvation, and he must submit to the truth of the indwelling Holy Spirit after this salvation.

Romans 8:14
For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.

As Christians, we have been quickened in spirit (Made alive), and the Holy Spirit dwells in us, yet we still yield to the dead works of the flesh and the vain imaginings of the heart rather than the truth of God’s Word as revealed by the Holy Spirit of God.

Consider all of the Christians that you know, including yourself, and ask yourself why you call them a Christian. I am not telling you to judge them and whether they are a Christian or not, I am telling you to judge yourself and what your perception of a Christian is. If a man/woman is a Christian because of the good things that they do, or because they are faithful to come to Church, then you are judging Christianity only in the flesh. If a man/woman is a Christian in your eyes because of their knowledge of the Bible or their ability to teach, preach or give wise council, then you are basing Christianity on the soul and the goodness of their self (Which can spring from a hearty conscience, instead of a genuine relationship with God). But if any man/woman is a Christian in your eyes because they demonstrate the fruits of the spirit, then you are basing Christianity on worship in spirit, and all of the other attributes associated with a Christian (Good works, Bible knowledge, wisdom etc.) will naturally fall into place.

Galatians 5:22-24
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. 24 And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.

How many of the Christians that you know actually love with the agape sacrificial love of God, instead of the selfish self centered love of man? Do they give of themselves and their possessions out of love, or out of pride or the expectation of something in return?

How many Christians do you know that will still bubble over with joy, even through tribulations and trials and the cares of life that make them unhappy? Or do they fall out of Church or lose their inner joy at the first sign of trouble or hardship?

How many Christians do you know that have the kind of peace that surpasses all understanding, and that are anxious for nothing?

Who is longsuffering today? Who does not pounce or backbite with the slightest offense, or even a perceived offense? Who is kind and merciful, gracious and patient?

How many Christians do you know that are temperate? Where are the Christians that are not self indulgent, self centered, lustful or covetous?

Self-help programs are all about self and what you can do for yourself, not about God and what God has already done for you. Religions that teach that a person must perform certain physical acts (Baptism, church membership, penitence, repetitious prayers etc) are teaching you to worship God with the flesh. We must especially beware of religions that teach doctrines or traditions of men in order to obtain some form of salvation, for all such things are the vain imaginings of men and they teach us to worship a god out of our on soul and evil heart. Instead we must repent of our sins knowing that there is nothing that we can do to save ourselves, then trust in nothing except for the promise of God. That promise is that if we believe in our heart on His Son Jesus Christ, born of a virgin, that He lived a sinless life and was crucified for our sins, and that He rose again alive on the third day, we shall be saved. At that moment we receive a new heart and a new spirit, it is only then that we can worship in spirit and in truth because it is only then that we have the “Truth” in us. That truth will manifest itself in the fruits of the spirit, which will lead to good works of the flesh, knowledge, wisdom and the understanding of God’s Word. Salvation and the truth that it brings is all about Jesus, who He is, and what He did on the cross for us. Salvation has absolutely nothing to do with us and what we have done, what we have given, what we have suffered, or what we have sacrificed. All of those things are worthless if you have not first been born again by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ our Lord.

~Proverbs 10:21¬†‚ÄúThe lips of the righteous feed many: but fools die for want of wisdom.‚ÄĚ

Fools gold was what lay waiting for those who were seeking their fame and fortune during the Gold Rush in the mid 1800’s. The prospectors gave up their homes to move out West so they could strike it rich. What they found looked like real gold but they were fooled. What disappointment awaits when one doesn’t base decisions on God’s Word. These people were very foolish indeed. They listened to the worldly and they reaped worldly problems.

The Bible teaches us that the lips of the righteous feed many. What a beautiful picture that is indeed. I think of kind words, encouraging words, exhorting words, comforting words, wise words, words that teach, words that preach, and uplifting words. There are so many ways we can feed another person.

But the fool does not have these words to feed to others. In fact, the fool is dying to have wisdom. Noah Webster has interesting definitions for the word fool.

3. In scripture, fool is often used for a wicked or depraved person; one who acts contrary to sound wisdom in his moral deportment; one who follows his own inclinations, who prefers trifling and temporary pleasures to the service of God and eternal happiness.

The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God. Psa 14.

4. A weak christian; a godly person who has much remaining sin and unbelief.

O fools, and slow of heart to believe all the prophets have written. Luke 24.

So the fool does not necessarily have to be an unbeliever but can be a weak christian as well.

Haven’t you ever heard an unbeliever or a weak christian make a comment over a situation that just seemed void of wisdom? I think of new believers who come into our churches and have not grown in the Lord yet. Older christians make unwise comments about the way they dress or look or smell or whatever. The new believer is offended and never steps foot in that church again. How sad that the lips of the righteous were not the first words that new believer heard in that church. That lips of the righteous could have been feeding that babe in Christ. Instead, the fool spewed forth words which showed his foolishness. How sad is that?

As christians, we are encouraged to ask God for wisdom and He promises to give it to usliberally, nor will He reprove us for asking Him for it.

~James 1:5 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. 

How are your words today? Do they feed those around you or do you show your lack of wisdom? Are you the type of person that people come to for counsel? Or do you keep going to others for counsel? God promises to give you wisdom if you ask. There are 54 occurences in 53 verses of the word wisdom in the Bible. It is an excellent study. The person who is wise is gentle and longsuffering with others, knowing that everyone must grow in grace.

Fruit of the Spirit:

  1. Love
  2. Joy
  3. Peace
  4. Longsuffering
  5. Gentleness
  6. Goodness
  7. Faith
  8. Meekness
  9. Temperance

Fruit of the Fool:

  1. Hate
  2. Sadness
  3. Turmoil
  4. Impatience
  5. Harshness
  6. Badness
  7. Disbelief
  8. Assertiveness
  9. Over indulgent

The wise person displays these fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). The fool displays fruit, but a totally different kind. This kind of fruit would cause anyone to choke and die! Don’t be a fool! Be someone that God can use to be a blessing to others!

~Matthew 13:24-30 Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field: 25 But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. 26 But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. 27 So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares? 28 He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? 29 But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.

How many times have we heard messages on this topic? But have you ever stopped to¬†really think about where you stand on this passage? Do you consider yourself a wheat or a tare? If you are truly born-again, you are considered wheat. But does your life, and more importantly your heart, reflect that of a born-again Christian? Today’s devotional is not written to cause you to doubt your salvation but to¬†confirm your salvation! Why? Because there are many out there who claim they are saved but their hearts speak another matter.

I thought today’s photo was a beautiful depiction of what I’m trying to write about. We were out in the country and this tree had been overwhelmed by weeds. The weeds are so intertwined with the tree, one can hardly distinguish between the two. But notice the beautiful flower growing on the weed’s vine. I likened it to the unsaved person who is trying to live the life of a Christian. It’s part of the tree just as a professing Christian is part of a church. It even has a pretty flower just as a professing Christian would “do and sound” like a real Christian. But, alas, it is merely a weed – an unsaved person merely professing to be saved.

A good example of what I’m trying to convey comes from my very own church, long before I ever joined it. The first Pastor to ever pastor my church was married and served with his wife for many years. During a revival, after almost 20 years of serving, she walked the aisle for salvation! She could no longer live her life as someone who was “supposed” to be saved! The fear of dying and going to Hell was great and she heeded the Holy Spirit’s call! \o/ She could no longer live the lie of deception. I believe this is what Paul referred to in the following Scripture:

~Philippians 2:12 Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.

Many call the name of Jesus but never come to a saving knowledge of Him. No where in Scripture do we see someone praying a little prayer to “be saved” – it just cannot be found. However, you see salvation in¬†action because of repentance! People’s lives¬†changed and their actions proved what happened in their hearts.

~Acts 19:18-20 And many that believed came, and confessed, and shewed their deeds. 19 Many of them also which used curious arts brought their books together, and burned them before all [men]: and they counted the price of them, and found [it] fifty thousand [pieces] of silver. 20 So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed.

Verse 20 totally depicts the results of this repentance. The change was so great that God’s Word grew and prevailed. That’s what brought about the great revivals in our history. There was a true Holy Ghost change in people’s lives and that testimony changed other lives. Today, however, we see the product of the “professing Christian” and what this produces:

~Matthew 7:21-23 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

Some of my Christian friends and even my own family members are offended when I bring up this topic. I’ve often wondered why they would be so offended when I was encouraging them to search this matter out and make certain that they didn’t just blab a prayer with no repentance to back up that prayer. God’s grace cannot be separated from repentance. The verses above are very clear in this matter. I totally the churches of today’s spiritual condition in those verses. They¬†do things in the name of Jesus but their hearts are far from Him.

What would have happened had that Pastor’s wife not heeded the convicting power of the Holy Spirit in her life? She would have died and gone to Hell – even after a wonderful life as a Pastor’s wife, serving in her church! Christian, this is serious business. I am not asking you to doubt your salvation but to make¬†sure you are saved. Did you pray a prayer and then your life is one of trying to live like a Christian? Or did you pray that prayer and intentionally live your life repenting of known sin and leaving them behind? Is your Christian walk and spiritual fruit greater today than when you were first saved? If not, then it is time to do as Paul exhorted us to do and “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” There is nothing wrong with doing moral inventory as that is how the fruit of the Holy Spirit can grow in our lives.

Don’t be like this Pastor’s wife who lived a lie for almost 20 years! Think of all that she could have done for the Lord had she heeded the Holy Spirit from the beginning! Instead, listen to the Scriptures and submit yourself to the Lord for in them you will find peace! ūüôā

There once was a duck who was swimming along in a beautiful lake. ¬†One day, the duck saw a dog and his human playing on the beach. The human threw a stick into the water and the dog jumped in to fetch the stick. Oh how the duck wished he could be that dog for just one day! How wonderful it must be to play on the beach, barking and playing fetch with a human! The duck, desperate in his attempt to be a dog, swam ashore and waddled up to the human. He opened his mouth, hoping he could bark like the dog, to entice the human to throw the stick so he¬†could fetch. Instead of a bark came a loud “quack.” The poor duck – no matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t bark – just quack! Moral of the story: If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, and water rolls off its back like a duck, then it must¬†be a duck!

Yes, today’s little story sounds silly but it’s a good analogy of the state of the church today. In Jesus’ day, it was easy to recognize a Gentile, or even a Samaritan. Not a hundred years ago, the same could be said of non-Christians. At the turn of the 20th Century, the church allowed compromise to sneak in. Today, one can barely spot a Christian in a crowd.

A known saying that packs a punch is, “You are who you hang around with.” How true! We are exhorted by the Apostle Paul not to be unequally yoked with unbelievers (II Cor. 6:14). The flesh desires to sin (Gal. 5:17, Rom. 7:18) and unsaved friends will bring even more temptation into the friendship.

But in today’s churches, one can’t even be certain as to who is truly saved and who isn’t! The Scriptures tell us to be fruit inspectors. Galatians 5:19-23 lists the works of unrighteousness, followed by the fruit of the Spirit. As we get to know a person, it doesn’t take long to see their true fruit. Unfortunately, most churches have allowed worldliness and compromise amongst their members and, therefore, one can hardly see any fruit of the Spirit.

What’s wrong with being different? Were Christians not originally called out to be different from the unsaved (Romans 12:2, Titus 2:14, I Peter 2:9)? If we’re going to conform to something, why not conform to the likeness of the Saviour? Romans 8:29

Is it any wonder, in these end times, that the world is laughing at true Christianity? Their example of compromise has made them like the world rather than separated from the world. (Jude 1:18-19) What are we teaching our children by compromising what we held dear twenty years ago? The weekly news show 20/20 recently reported on Independent Fundamental Baptists. What a tragedy that all independent Baptist churches are lumped in with the horrible acts of a few! Is it any wonder that Christians will be so hated in the end times? The world is hard pressed to find true Christians for the lack of standards.

No wonder Christ said that when He returns to earth there would be little faith! (Luke 18:8) How very sad that Christians have desired to dabble in the world – bit by bit – day by day – year after year. Now all we have is a poor testimony to the lost and churches filled with lost people. Our beacon of light has become a candle that is barely flickering. ūüôĀ People I know, some in my own family, claim to be born again but are deceived into believing that a Christian must be like the world in order to win them to Christ. But Christ did not teach this (II Cor. 6:17) – He taught exactly the opposite. He exposed sin (John 4:18) – He preached on a literal Hell (Luke 16:19-31) – and He showed the way to Heaven (John 14:6).

The Gospel has not changed, but the church has. Just like today’s story about the duck: If the church looks worldly, walks worldly, and talks worldly, then it must be worldly!

~Galatians 5:16-17 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.

~Galatians 5:24 And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.

Yesterday’s devotional briefly covered the fruit of the Holy Spirit displayed as we walk this spiritual journey. As I read today’s verses, I saw the remedy for nurturing and growing my spiritual fruit. As we practice these verses, we are training ourselves to walk in the Spirit of God. These are His qualities and characteristics. As we mimic Him, we work toward producing good fruit, not spotted with the world’s rottenness.

I love today’s photograph. ¬†I took this at Sweet Creek Falls in Mapleton, Oregon. ¬†Notice how the water is capturing a small amount of the sunlight through the trees. ¬†I felt that it depicted the spiritual struggle between the flesh and the Spirit that Paul was trying to explain. ¬†Paul tells us that our flesh (our old sin nature) is constantly battling against the Holy Spirit. But notice how Paul continues to tell us that The Spirit also battles against our flesh. When we are doing wrong, the Spirit lets us know it. We are not “comfortable” in our shoes. We are constantly battling – good against evil. Paul says that these two natures are contrary to each other and that we don’t want to do the things that we shouldn’t do (in the flesh). Do we fail? Absolutely! But the key is not continue to stay in this sin. If we are not bothered by the sin and continue in it, we should check ourselves – we should question why. The one who is not born again doesn’t even care that he is sinning. But to the born again believer, this is not so.

Paul exhorts the Corinthian church to examine themselves to see if they are living the sanctified life of a born-again believer. ¬†He affirmed rather than questioned their salvation in 1 Corinthians as well ( 1 Cor. 1:2; 3:1; 6:11,19-20). In 1 Corinthians 3:1-3 and 6:19-20 Paul referred to their carnality and yet called them “babes in Christ” and those whose “body is the temple of the Holy Ghost.”

He encouraged them to prove their sanctification to themselves. ¬†Nowhere do the Scriptures call believers to look to their works for assurance of salvation. ¬†Our salvation is through the Lord’s righteousness and His alone (Jer. 23:6b). ¬†We are called to look to Christ and find our assurance in Him. However, repeatedly in the Scriptures believers are called to look to their works to find out how they are doing in their walk with Christ. Yes, as believers we are to examine ourselves regularly. The purpose is to ensure that we are doing our best in our service for Christ. ¬† Christ provides salvation, the Holy Spirit provides sanctification – a separation between the worldly lusts and the fruit of the faith.

~2 Corinthians 13:5 Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?

So, Christian, let’s do a Godly inventory of our spiritual fruit. Are we walking in the Spirit or aren’t we? ¬†Are we allowing the Holy Spirit to teach us, to grow us, to sanctify us to the work of the Master?

Granted we are a work in progress and the Lord isn’t finished with us. However, we should be steadily moving forward in our walk. Paul repeated this thought process when he was writing to Timothy:

~2Timothy 2:21 If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work.

We should not be standing still for when we stand still we give the devil an opportunity to tempt us. The longer we stay still, the more likely we will be walking after the flesh and, therefore, be walking backwards!