Grow Your Faith

sapling-154734_960_720

Before trying to help you with your new Christian life . . . let’s make sure you are a Christian to begin with.

So I think some definitions are in order.

A Christian is NOT someone who only believes in God. (“You believe there is one God; you do well. But the demons also believe, and tremble! Will you understand, therefore, that faith without works is dead?” [James 2:19,20])

A Christian is NOT someone who only loves and is hungry for God and seeks to know Him increasingly better. (Other religions do that too.)

They’re NOT someone who only believes Jesus died on the Cross to pay the required penalty for people’s sins. (As in mere head knowledge or mental assent.)

In fact, they’re NOT even someone who only trusts He died for them personally, as their substitute, paying for their every sin, before being raised from the dead. (But goes on living for themselves and yawning at God.)

What they ARE . . . is “a disciple” of Christ – or a person so passionate and focused on learning about God that they’ve forsaken whatever it takes to seek and continue knowing Him increasingly better WHILE believing the death of Christ on their behalf is what gives them, as sinners, the legal right to have dealings with a holy God in the first place.

(cp. Lk. 14:33; Acts 11:26; Jn. 8:31,32; 15:1-6; 17:2,3; I Cor. 15:1-4; Mk. 8:31-38; Lk. 9:22-25; 12:21; 21:34-36; II Cor. 5:15-17,20; Rom. 5:8-10; 6:14,22,23; 7:4; 8:4,5,13,14,17,28; Eph. 1:1; 6:24; II Th. 2:10; Heb. 10:38,39; Jas. 1:12; 4:4; I Jn. 2:15-17; 5:20,21; Rev. 3:15,16.)

To put it another way – the way Jesus Himself puts it – a Christian is someone who leaves behind whatever it takes to lovingly and passionately “FOLLOW” [FOLLOW, FOLLOW] the One who died on the Cross . . . (of course, while believing in that same Cross along the way, but that was already assumed).

Some will say this sounds more like “religious works” or “trying to earn your salvation,” that there’s “absolutely nothing we can do” to save ourselves, and that Jesus had to do it all. And they’re sort of right, and sort of wrong. He did in fact have to do it all. But all of what? See, there are two things going on here, and we’ve confused them into one. It is 100% true that “there is nothing we can do” to erase our sins. Of course not. So Jesus did all of that. But Jesus paid for those sins only so we can have the legal right to know, love and serve God! Which IS in fact something “we must do!” And ONLY WE can do it! (Which is why Peter in the book of Acts exhorted the people to “save themselves” from the idolatry of their generation.) The fact is, if we don’t know, love and serve God, then we are only fooling ourselves if we think we’re going to Heaven – whether we believe in the Cross or not. (For we wouldn’t, of course, “fit in” [or belong] in an atmosphere of nothing but loving and serving God.) Since Jesus tells us the LIFE called eternal is entirely about knowing God increasingly better forever (cp. Jn. 17:2,3; 3:16; Mt. 4:4), then knowing Him should never be confused with a work done to earn the right to know Him! And if you’re not also loving and serving Him, then you’re not knowing Him at all. What did you think? That knowing God could be separated from loving and serving Him? To put it as simply as possible, the Cross gives us sinners the legal right to have dealings with a holy God. And if we refuse to know, love, serve, honor and submit to Him on earth, He’ll refuse to let us start doing it “after we die.” Which is why Jesus said we must be born again (or “start” our new spiritual life) in this lifetime, not think we can start after we get to Heaven! (cp. Jn. 3:3,5; 15:1-6; 17:3; Mt. 4:4)

But please notice an amazing thing. “Following” is not about ever actually “arriving” anywhere – at any particular level of knowledge or holiness – but only about continuing to move forward! That should encourage you greatly, because it means God will accept you in spite of your ongoing shortcomings and sins, as long as you ARE in fact moving forward in hot pursuit of the one who died on the Cross to pay for those sins.

At the same time, since He, the One you now love, did have to pay for those sins with His blood, you will suddenly see your sins as the enemy, and will find yourself attacking them out of your life with reasonable aggressiveness.

Following Jesus doesn’t mean becoming perfect, but it does mean having a new outlook on life. And that outlook will hate your sins, and eventually move you further and further from them, as you know God better and better. If you consider sin to be your friend, then how much of a friend is God? But if you are friends with God, it will be impossible for you to have a casual, friendly attitude toward sin.

The point is, whatever particular sin has a death grip on you at the moment, follow Jesus with a passion ANYWAY! (While believing His Cross gives you that legal right.) Not only will those sins lose their strength until you are eventually able to quit them, but you will be forgiven in the meantime, as long as you are actively following the One who died on the Cross for you. (Such following has also been called “the sort of faith that saves.”)

“Gospel” means “good news,” and this news is good for a reason! The reason it’s so good, is because it’s for us while we’re still sinful (I Jn. 1:10) – not after we become perfect! That means it’s for all of us. If you want God, you can have Him . . . as long as you pursue Him like you mean it.

God gives us plenty of room to grow . . . as long as we are growing!

Now, since we all KNOW whether or not we are at least moving forward with God, and all KNOW whether or not we believe Jesus died for our sins (giving us the legal right to follow Him in the first place), that means we NEVER HAVE TO WONDER if we’re accepted by God and on our way to Heaven!

It’s something we can KNOW, and know NOW – as long as we are moving forward with God while believing only the Cross gives us that legal right.

But if you’re still not sure you’re “following” the One who died on the Cross (having left behind whatever held you back, so that you are able to keep moving forward in hot pursuit of God), let me share with you a “Questionnaire” I wrote, that might help you identify where you’re at. Click here.

Which brings us to our next category, the second stated purpose of this website, “The Story Behind the Tracts” . . . which you can find here.

Advertisements