ARE YOU A CHRISTIAN?

 

When the question, “Are you a Christian?” was posed to our congregation by our pastor, my reaction (to myself) was, “Well, I was raised a Catholic.”   This response didn’t answer the question. You can be Catholic, Baptist, Lutheran, religious, etc. and not be a Christian. How can this be? To be a Christian, is to be Christ-like. We are to walk as he walked and to do his works. To be a member of a denomination (or no denomination) and attend church does not make us a Christian if we do our own will and not the will of the Father. For Jesus himself said he only spoke what he heard the Father say and he only did what he saw the Father do. In other words, his works and words were the Father’s works and words.

The Father provided for us and it is revealed in the scriptures, some distinct “happenings” that one must experience to mature as a Christian. It seems that each denomination has its own teachings or opinions on these, but unless these teachings are in line with the bible, they are simply heresies and an abomination to God.

We must be born again.
Jesus in speaking to Nicodemus in John 3:3 said, “Verily, Verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

He went on to say in verse 5, “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

Paul writing in Romans chapter 8, says in verse 1, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

Go on and read all of chapter 8, but starting in verse 9 and continuing on in 10, he states, “But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, is so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.

And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.

In Galatians 2:20, Paul again writing says, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

In 1st Corinthians 6:17, Paul writes, “He that is joined to the Lord is one Spirit.

When we are born again, we receive Jesus into our hearts and it is his spirit that dwells in us.

So how do we get Jesus to dwell in us? Believe the gospel!  “…how Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day…” (1st Corinthians 15:3-4).

It is not enough to just believe that he is our Savior and he died for our sins. He is not our Savior unless he is also our Lord and we must believe that he was raised from the dead.

Paul told us how to become ‘saved’. “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” (Romans 10:9). This is only the beginning. We must go on to perfection (maturity).

It is God’s grace and mercy that we can even receive the Lord. In Ephesians 2:8 Paul writes, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.

It comes through faith in the Gospel, not through the law of Moses. In fact, under the law of Moses, we can lose our salvation. “Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.” (Galatians 5:4).

Doyle Davidson (Water of Life Ministries) speaking by the Spirit of God, said one evening in church, that the Church today is “married to Jesus, but living with Moses”. This is spiritual adultery and cuts us off from the power of God.

We must be baptized in water.
Jesus, in obedience to the Father, went to the river Jordan to be baptized by John the Baptist. John told Jesus that he wasn’t worthy to baptize him, but Jesus said in Matthew 3:15, "And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness.

Being baptized in water was an act of obedience and it fulfilled righteousness. After Jesus was baptized, he came up out of the water. Which means he was in and under the water. This was a major eye opener for me. He was not sprinkled on the head when he was six weeks old. He went under the water in a river.

Throughout the book of Acts there are numerous accounts of people hearing the gospel and then getting baptized by submersion in water. Why in the water? Jesus is our example. In first epistle of John, he writes in chapter 2:6, “He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.” After we receive Jesus, God will lead us to repentance and then we must be baptized to deal with the old man, the body of sin.

Paul described both the method of baptism and the reason for it, in the book of Romans, chapter 6. In verses 3-6, he said,

Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?

Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:

Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.

Baptism is the method whereby we bury the body of sin we inherited from Adam. We are buried by being submerged in water, just as Jesus was buried in the tomb. When we come up out of the water, we partake of his resurrection and walk in a new life, one that is dead to sin, but alive unto God. Until this old man is dealt with, we cannot walk with God.

I grew up in a religion that believed that a child of 6 weeks must be baptized by sprinkling water on his head to deal with original sin. The only problem is that it is not scriptural. Baptism does not deal with original sin, as it is not mentioned in the bible.

Water baptism deals with our sin nature, our propensity to sin, which is a curse we inherited from Adam because of his disobedience. For the crucifying of the old man to be effective, we must know what is going on when we are baptized and be able to confess Jesus as Lord, which I doubt most 6 week old babies are capable of.

When this was revealed to my heart by the Spirit of God, I realized that I had never been baptized according to the will of God. The thing to remember about water baptism, is that it is a burial of the old man and a resurrection of the new man that can walk with God. Not a type and shadow or a symbolic gesture, but an actual putting to death of the body of sin.

We must be baptized in the Holy Spirit with evidence of speaking in tongues.
When Jesus gave us the commission through his disciples in Mark chapter 16, he said unto them in verses 15-16,

Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.

Here he is telling us to believe the gospel (as defined in 1st Corinthians 15:3-4) and that we should be baptized. And continuing on in verse 17,

And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; thy shall speak with new tongues:

Do you believe the gospel? Then you will speak in tongues. If you do not speak in tongues, you do not believe the gospel. If you do not believe the gospel, you are not a Christian. You may be religious and go to church, but you are not of Jesus. These are hard words, but they are not my words, they are the Lord’s. He said, “…these signs follow them that believe;…they shall speak with new tongues”.

If we do not speak in tongues, we have not been baptized in the Holy Spirit. In the book of Acts, the only evidence of the baptism in the Holy Spirit , is that those that were baptized by the Holy Spirit, spoke in tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.

In Acts chapter 2, about 120 disciples of Jesus, received the baptism and they spoke in tongues.

In Acts 10:44-46, Peter was preaching the gospel to the gentiles; “While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word.

And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost.

For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God.

The Holy Spirit is a gift from God and we must ask for it. Jesus in Luke 11:11-13, said,

If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent?

Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion?

If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?"

Without the Holy Spirit we are bastards. A bastard is simply a fatherless child (not an orphan, but illegimate). Romans 8:14 says, “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” If we are not a son of God, then God is not our Father and we are fatherless. We cannot even obey God unless we are led by His Spirit.

I have found that praying in tongues is a daily requirement of self-defense. As I try to walk with God, the enemy tries to hinder me and wear me down so I will just give up. Praying in the Spirit, builds us up.

Paul again writing in 1st Corinthians states in chapter 14, “For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God…” (verse 2).

He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifeth himself…” (verse 4).

In verses 14-15 he states, “For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful. What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also.

Here Paul is saying he prays and worships in the spirit (in tongues) and in understanding (his native tongue). Unless I pray in the spirit and in English, I am missing out in a substantial portion of prayer. And it is prayer, praise and worship that stills the enemy.

The Holy Spirit is also called the Spirit of Truth. Jesus said:

Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come.

He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.” (John 16:13-14).

The truth the Holy Spirit will show us is a revelation of the resurrected Jesus. The Holy Spirit does not speak about himself or glorify himself. He glorifies Jesus. That makes it easy to know whether a preacher is speaking by the Holy Spirit. If he is not glorifying Jesus, it is not God speaking out of his mouth.

Work out your own salvation.
In the epistle to the Philippians, Paul stated in chapter 2:11-12, “…that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father…and …work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.

I thank God that he gave us the means to this salvation, both here on earth and in life ever lasting. We must be born again of the spirit and receive the spirit of the resurrected Jesus in our hearts. We must be baptized in water to deal with our body of sin, and we must be baptized in the Holy Spirit so we can become sons of God. Being born again allows us to enter the kingdom of God and the baptism in the Holy Spirit allows us to be led by God as sons and daughters. Then and only then, can we work out our salvation and be called Christians.

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