The Mark of a True Christian

I have been very fortunate to grow up in a healthy home with loving and supportive parents who raised me well. The importance of being obedient to my parents and respecting their decisions was instilled within me at a young age. My parents were stricter than most and at times I felt like I was missing out. I even recall being ridiculed by some of my peers for supposedly living too sheltered of a life. Admittedly, there were occasions where I was inclined to agree, particularly with the severe forms of discipline I faced when I made poor decisions. In retrospect, I am very grateful for the way in which my parents raised me because of the person that I am today.

In a very similar way, the Scriptures reveal to us that God not only desires our obedience but He commands it. In John 14:15, Jesus pointedly tells us that “If you love Me, you will obey-god-in-loveobey what I command”. He later expands on this by saying, “If anyone loves Me, he will obey My teaching, My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make our home with him. He who does not love me will not obey my teaching(John 14:23-24). Without reservation, Jesus declares that obedience is required within the Christian Walk as we follow Him. In effect, the love which we have for God through Christ results in obedience to do what God has asked and called us to become. In John 14 verse 23, we are also told that as we obey God’s teaching that the Father will love us and that They(we) will also make Their home with us. Jesus is referring to when the Holy Spirit resides within our souls in our bodies which have now been transformed into holy temples through Christ’s perfect atoning sacrifice on Calvary.

I am about to digress a little here but I assure you that is for good reason. What I find alarming and disconcerting about the way in which the Gospel is preached today is that there is an imbalanced emphasis on salvation by grace with little to no mention of the need for the now-saved-sinner to pursue continued repentance. I understand that the work on the Cross is finished however this does not preclude the absolute vital need for repentance through making war with sin by the power of the Holy Spirit. When the Gospel is preached while neglecting the essential repentance aspect, a half-truth Gospel is being spread which is really no Gospel at all(Galatians 1:6). What I have seen is one of the results from this twisted gospel message is people ignorantly presuming on God’s grace, thinking that they have a licence to sin because the need for repentance is either minimized or forgotten altogether. The other dilemma is that the majority of this time the person is not genuinely saved, though they falsely think that they are. This half-truth Gospel falsely portrays Jesus as a sort of functional savior where nothing is required from the sinner after accepting Jesus. Jesus Himself warns and advises us to count the costs of following Him. He demands our full allegiance and this will require sacrifice and our unbridled commitment. 

I need to provide some basic Christian theology of justification in order to bring things full circle. Being indwelt by the Holy Spirit initially occurred when we believed in Christ alone for our salvation, in turn making Him the Savior and Lord of our lives. Now God declares us as justified before Him. Amazingly, when God looks at us He sees us clothed in the righteousness of His Son, Jesus. The mark of a true Christian is not that we are now perfect, or not going to stumble, rather, it is derived from true repentance.     

I believe that it would be helpful to establish a working definition of repentance in order to ensure that we are all on the same page. Easton’s Bible Dictionary defines repentance as:

an actual hatred of sin (Ps. 119:128; Job 42:5, 6; 2 Cor. 7:10) and turning from it to God…and a persistent endeavour after a holy life in a walking with God in the way of his commandments. The true penitent is conscious of guilt (Ps. 51:4, 9), of pollution (51:5, 7, 10), and of helplessness (51:11; 109:21, 22). Thus he apprehends himself to be just what God has always seen him to be and declares him to be. But repentance comprehends not only such a sense of sin, but also an apprehension of mercy, without which there can be no true repentance (Ps. 51:1; 130:4)”.

Repentance is all about turning away from the sin which formerly held us captive through taking off the grave clothes and putting on the grace clothes. As believers in Christ, we now possess this power to be victorious over any and all sin because its stronghold and grasp over us has been destroyed. True believers in Christ are sealed with the Holy Spirit by God. Therefore, the Holy Spirit is not something that comes and goes within real Christians. However, even as believers, our flesh is very weak and we are ourselves are incredibly prone to go astray. That is why it is indispensable that we walk in obedience by following God’s commands, especially when it comes to daily repentance and putting to death the deeds of the flesh(Romans 8:13). As Jesus continues speaking in John 14 about obedience, He becomes more direct about what He meant in verse 23 when says, “we”. In verse 26 Jesus says, “But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you”. We need to be continually filled by the Holy Spirit in order that we may be led and controlled by Him so that God becomes the Lord over all entire lives…not just on Sundays. As I see it, this only happens as an overflow of our love for God through active obedience to God and His commands. Even the smallest, seemingly insignificant day-to-day decisions make the biggest difference over time. CS Lewis put it this way,

“Good and evil both increase at compound interest. That is why the little decisions you and I make every day are of such infinite importance. The smallest good act today is the capture of a strategic point from which, a few months later, you may be able to go on to victories you never dreamed of. An apparently trivial indulgence in lust or anger today is the loss of a ridge or railway line or bridgehead from which the enemy may launch an attack otherwise impossible(CS Lewis p 132).

The Holy Spirit drives the whole engine of the Christian life, therefore when it is grieved or quenched by our disobedience, we stumble back into our sinful and comeholyspiritfleshly tendencies. Herein lies the danger of disobedience. Although believers are indeed indwelt by the Holy Spirit, God does not remove our free will. This means that we have the choice each and every day to either obey God allowing our souls to be filled with the Holy Spirit or to disobey God thereby quenching the Holy Spirit. The former way enables God to work in and through us where He works mightily enabling us to be all that God has designed and purposed for us to become. The latter way leads to an unfruitful and strangled Christian life where instead of thriving we end up merely surviving.

Like loving parents who know what is best for their children, we can rest on the ironclad promise that God knows what is best for us. Even though there are times when we feel like we know better, we need to trust in God and His perfect timing for all things. He is our good Father and He will withhold no good thing for us as we lovingly obey and walk rightly with Him (Pslam 84:11).

The importance of obedience to God is instrumental for living a fruitful, God-honouring, Christ-exalting, kingdom-furthering Christian life. The Old Testament contains numerous examples of those who stepped out in faith to pursue what God was calling them to do. Comfortable Christians cannot change the world. It is not until we leave our comfort zones that God is able start to work through us in ways which you and I cannot begin to imagine.

Lord, I pray that this blog post may serve to help embolden Your Church to courageously pursue opportunities where we are being called even if they make us uncomfortable. I also pray that we delight in following You and Your commandments because of our pure love and devotion to You. Help us to live real Christian lives marked with repentance and an unceasing passion to reach the lost. In Jesus’ Name, I pray, Amen.

References:

Easton’s Bible Dictionary by Matthew George Easton

Mere Christianity by CS Lewis

 

Power in Eternal Perspective

As Christians, I do not think that it is possible to overemphasize the level of importance we should place on our perspective. Yet, I cannot even begin to count the number of times where my perspective became distorted and tainted by the deceitfulness of my heart. The truth of the matter is that even as Christians, we are still very inclined to waver and allow our perspective to be shaped by the lies of the world. Perhaps one of the best examples of someone in the Bible who truly got what having an eternal perspective looks like is Paul. In his letter to the Philippians(4:10-13), Paul writes,

I rejoice greatly in the Lord that at last you have renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you have been concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

Let this sink in for a moment: Paul is literally a prisoner at this point, yet he is virtually unaffected by his present circumstances to the point where he is actually rejoicing. How is this possible!? Shouldn’t Paul be anxious about what may happen to him, or at the very least that the Jesus Will Supply All Thingsadvancement of the Gospel may be hindered? To the extreme contrary, Paul rejoices with the assurance that God will supply all his needs (Phil. 4:19) and that God’s will is being accomplished despite these adverse circumstances. The central lesson here is that “our inner attitudes do not have to reflect our outward circumstances”. Paul had unbridled confidence that Jesus was always with him and no outward circumstance could ever undermine this. The secret to this is simply found in relying on Christ’s power for strength. 

If you are anything like me, unfavorable circumstances have a tendency of leading me to thoughts of discouragement, doubts, and even despair. What I have found is helpful is preparing ahead of time through feeding my mind with God’s Word and meditating on His promises. Reading about God’s promises is one thing, but actually marveling and mediating on them so that they become entrenched in our minds is quite another. In doing so, when conflicts befall us and we find ourselves immersed in unpleasant circumstances, we can readily call God’s promises to mind. “What we put into our minds determines what comes out in our words and actions”; harmful input from the world needs to be replaced with wholesome input from God’s Word.

Interestingly, even the world has its own version of this teaching within New Ageism. The difference is that the world wants you to believe that you alone possess the power to change your inner attitude and perspective through relying on your own strength. While this may work in the short-term, it certainly does not within the long-term because only God through Jesus can provide us with an eternal perspective. We are weak and we will constantly fall short even though we like to view ourselves as wise in our own eyes; the heart is deceitful and it cannot be trusted(Jer. 17:9). You will find yourself chasing after the wind never actually finding the contentment which your soul seeks. All the while, you will become a slave to your own desires, becoming a product of your environment and situations rather than a conqueror through being anchored in the One who already victoriously overcame sin and death!  We all need Jesus, so let’s stopping leaning on our own strength like the enemy cunningly tells us to do by means of his lies. Instead let’s put our full trust in Jesus alone so that we can see life through God’s point-of-view. 

Please free feel to comment below! I welcome any of your thoughts!

God Bless!

The Best Time Is Yet To Come

Resting in the glorious truth that God is indeed fully sovereign and all-knowing over every single detail of our lives should give us all peace, assurance, and hope as we entrust every fabric of our being unto Him. Melwyn And Ruth Misquitta from Witness Ministries recently wrote the following blog entry regarding this importance of trusting in our all-sovereign Father at all times. I pray that you find it as encouraging, and spiritually-edifying as I did!

FAITH BOOSTER:

The Best Time Is Yet To Come [May 03, 2016]

WORD OF FAITH:

The vision is yet for an appointed time…Habakkuk 2:3, NKJV

The scripture says, “The vision is for an appointed time.” That means there is a specific time already determined for the fulfillment of the desires God has placed in your heart. The appointed time is the best time! We have to trust that God can see the big picture for our lives. He knows what’s up ahead. He knows what we’re going to need, who we’re going to need, and when they need to show up. If God did everything we ask on our timetable, it would limit us because sometimes, what we’re asking for is too small. Sometimes the person we think we can’t live without, God knows in ten years they’re not going to be good for us. So He is closing the door right now. Sometimes the promotion we want so badly, if God gave it to us right now, He knows it would keep us from a much bigger promotion that He has three years down the road.

Remember, God has the advantage of seeing it all. The longer I live, the more I trust Him. The more I see His hand of faithfulness, the more I know that His plan is better than my plan. Today, trust that He knows what He’s doing. Trust that He has an appointed time, and it is the best time to bring to pass His promises in your life!

DECLARATION OF FAITH:

Father, today I put my dreams, desires, hopes and longings into Your loving hands. I trust that the vision You have given me is for an appointed time. I know Your timing is best so I will praise You until I see the promise in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Original Blog Entry:

https://witnessministries.wordpress.com/2016/05/03/the-best-time-is-yet-to-come/

Why Are You Sleeping?

This particular blog post vividly conveys the importance of regular and intimate prayer time with the Lord.

Truly, we are in an unseen spiritual battleground against principalities much stronger than mere mortal beings. The enemy is constantly tempting us, hoping to make us stumble, consequently rendering us inffective for God’s work. It is only through prayer that God’s unprecedented power through His Holy Spirit is able to be unleashed, providing us with inexplicable strength to conquer all things. This is why maintaining a vibrant and healthy prayer is absolutely indispensable as we persevere throughout the good fight of faith, pressing on towards the finish line!

Original Blog Entry:

Why are you sleeping?

He Orchestrates Your Life

Great post!
It’s very encouraging, and so incredibly true!
Good things certainly come to those who prayerfully and faithfully wait upon the Lord!
I have definitely learnt the importance of always trusting in God by leaning on His strength and relying on His wisdom from His Word particularly throughout life’s valleys!
The precision of His timing for those who obediently submit to Him is unparalleled and it is infinitely greater than we could ever accomplish alone.
Thanks for sharing!

Original Blog Entry below:

https://witnessministries.wordpress.com/2015/06/01/he-orchestrates-your-life/

Pushing Through

Great post and well-worth the read!
I can certainly relate to the importance of always maintaining a persevering, trusting, and grateful attitude towards the Lord. God is so incredibly faithful and He will always provide regardless of how bleak things may seem at the time. Therefore, He alone is infinitely worthy of our full, unblemished submission and reliance with whatever comes our way in life!
Have a great weekend!

Original Blog Entry below:

https://thegamehuddle.wordpress.com/2016/03/26/the-way-god-wins/

Pushing Through

Great post and well-worth the read!
I can certainly relate to the importance of always maintaining a persevering, trusting, and grateful attitude towards the Lord. God is so incredibly faithful and He will always provide regardless of how bleak things may seem at the time. Therefore, He alone is infinitely worthy of our full, unblemished submission and reliance with whatever comes our way in life!
Have a great weekend!

The Game Huddle

Ricardo Camacho Photo Credit: Ricardo Camacho via CC Flickr

“But I trust in Your unfailing love. My heart rejoices in Your deliverance. I will sing the LORD’s praise, for He has been good to me.” Psalm 13:6

Psalm 13 shows us what to do when we find ourselves asking tough questions like this:

* How long will You forget me? (v1)

* How long will You hide from me? (v1)

* How long must I wrestle with my thoughts? (v2)

* How long must my heart sorrow? (v2)

* How long will my enemies triumph over me? (v2)

All these questions make me think that maybe Psalm 13 was written by an athlete or coach going through a tough season, rough injury, personal performance slump, real loneliness, broken relationship, or a long losing streak. And it’s written to an audience that will likely feel the very same way.

BUT Psalm 13 ends…

View original post 153 more words

The Way God Wins

Thank-you for sharing this beautiful reflection on the incomprehensibly glorious significance of the Cross!
God bless!

The Game Huddle

Gabriel Rosa Photo Credit: Gabriel Rosa via CC Flickr

“And you, who were dead in your trespasses…., God made alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This He set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in (Jesus).” Colossians 2:13–15 ESV

When God wins, He wins big time! We’re not talking an overtime, squeak-it-out victory. And we’re not talking about a soccer game where there’s a shootout win because one ball dribbles in, but otherwise it would have been a tie. God doesn’t operate like that. When He wins a battle, His victory is decisive.

As God was pouring out His wrath on His Son, we were there in His mind. From each painful step to Calvary, to His last…

View original post 366 more words

Obedience Brings Blessings

Thank-you for writing this beautiful and well-timed post. I like how you connected and related obedience to our faith in God. May God embolden His followers to pursue more godly risks even when they may not make sense at the time!

Boosters, Prayers & Confessions

hqdefault.jpg 

FAITH BOOSTER:

Obedience Brings Blessings [Mar.09, 2016]

WORD OF FAITH:

“Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession…”(Exodus 19:5, NIV)

Sometimes God asks us to do things that don’t make sense. It doesn’t seem logical. It doesn’t fit into our budget. It doesn’t line up with our schedule. “God, You want me to go back to college? I’m 40 years old.” “God, You want me to give them a gift? I was saving those funds for my own dreams.” Or, “God, You want me to leave this secure position that I’ve had for years and start my own business?” Too often we over-analyze it. We debate it. Look at it only in the natural. We end up making excuses, talking ourselves out of it, “That couldn’t be God.” But if you’re going to reach your highest…

View original post 224 more words

Becoming What You Worship

One thing which believers and non-believers alike share in common is that we all worship something. There is always one particular thing which we dedicate and devote our lives towards. Whatever this thing may be, it will almost always form the identity and the very fabric of who we are as individuals. I would even postulate that in some sense we actually become what we worship and it is my contention that this view is also supported within the Scriptures.MAde for God
Continue reading