Monday, September 29, 2008

What Does A Christian Look Like?

Acts 11:25-26 – the word Christian is only used 3 times in the New Testament.

The early Christians called themselves brothers, disciples, believers, saints, The Way, and finally Christian.

In the past weeks we’ve looked at Assurance of Salvation and Security of the Believer.


What does a Christian look like?

1/3 of the world (2 billion) plus 80% of Americans identify themselves as “Christian”.

But…. What constitutes Christianity? What makes one a Christian?

Answers from the person on the street include:

I’m a Christian because….

1. I choose Christianity as my religious preference (as opposed to Jew, Islam, etc.)

2. My family is or has ben Christian (roots/tradition)

3. I live in the USA – which is a Christian nation

4. I attend church (in contrast to synagogue or mosque) when I do worship.

5. I belong to a church or have been baptized in a church, etc.

6. I read the Bible

7. I believe in the person and teachings of Jesus

8. I believe in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ

9. I’ve accepted Jesus as my personal Lord and Savior

There are many definitions. Which is correct? How do we decide or “measure”?

Answer: We don’t have a New Testament definition.

However, we do have a New Testament description!

This description is not found in any one text , BUT if we take in the New Testament, here’s what we’ll find.

Summary statement: A Christian is one who identifies with: Jesus Christ.

A. as Savior

B. As Lord

and C. with Christ’s people

D. with Christ’s cause

I. A Christian identifies with Jesus as Savior.Luke 2:11 Matt. 1:21 Luke 19:10

(using the bridge illustration – a Christian believes in the bridge, and a Christian crosses the bridge.)

This means recognition of self as:

A sinner

In need of salvation The cross is central in the New Testament message

In need of correction – we are seriously flawed Rom. 3:23

In need of instruction – how am I supposed to live? What am I supposed to do?

This leads to:

II. A Christian identifies with Jesus as Lord. (Master, leader, boss, one in charge) He has the wisdom and answers that I need.

This includes: A. Universal Lord – He is Lord over everything. He chooses now to only be King and Lord of those who accept Him.

B. Personal Lord – which means that I recognize:

1. His authority over me

2. my accountability to Him. If He is my Lord, then I am personally responsible to His authority over me.

NOTE: Personal Lordship requires: 1. Knowledge of His Word. Hos. 4:6

2. Response to His Spirit

We can accept Him as Lord without knowing His will, but we cannot follow Him without knowledge of His Word. We can’t do His will if we don’t know what that will is.

III. A Christian identifies with Jesus’ People. Matt. 16:13-18 Eph. 4:4-6

New Testament experience was when people believed, they gathered to fellowship, learn, teach, pray, worship, reach others. The “Lone Ranger” Christian is totally NOT scriptural.

New Testament description of a Christian is, or includes:

A. association with other Christians

B. affection for the body/group/gatherings

C. Cooperation with the others for ministry

IV. A Christina identifies with Jesus’ Cause. (kingdom) Matt. 28:19-20 Acts 1:8 Matt. 5:13-16

The Cause is: reveal God, reconcile men, change hearts, transform society, promote His teaching, establish His Kingdom….

In the New Testament view, A. Christianity is more than good for some. It is essential for ALL. That is God’s will.

Therefore, Christianity which is NOT evangelical is NOT the New Testament description.

If, consequently, it is narrow and exclusive, so be it. That is the design, not the intent.

ADD: V. (according to the New Testament description) A Christian is one who is serious about this!. (It’s more than a head nod or verbal assent.)

QUESTION: If a person doesn’t meet these criteria, does that mean he’s not Christian?

Answer: #1. All are sinners – none “measure up” 100%.

#2. We have no “Christometer” to measure with

Therefore, #3. External (fruits) is all we have to measure by. James 2:18 & 26

So, #4. This is the criteria we should look for.

#5. This is the criteria we should strive for.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Security of the Believer

The Security of the Believer (perseverance of the saints, once saved always saved, etc.)

Once saved, once reconciled, never rejected!!

Springboard scripture: John 10:27-29

I. New Testament Scriptures supporting eternal security:

John 6:37-40

Phil. 1:6

2 Timothy 1:12

Hebrews 13:5

Question – are there scriptures to the contrary?

Answer – Yes. Some can be explained, some seem to support loss of salvation.

BUT, the majority of scriptures indicate that once you have been truly born again, you cannot lose that standing.

II. New Testament Pictures/Analogies

A. The New Birth – John 3:3-7. We can die. We cannot be unborn!!!

B. Sonship - John 1:12-13 still your parents’ child whether owned, disowned, disinherited, etc. The fact of sonship remains steadfast.

C. Adoption Romans 8:15-17 Galatians 4:4-7
In Oklahoma law and in Roman law back in Jesus’ time, an adopted child cannot be disinherited or disowned.

D. Earnest – Eph. 1:13-14 2 Cor. 5:5

E. The Prodigal Son – Luke 15 Note: lost sheep, lost coin, lost SON. He lost his direction, his discernment, his good sense. BUT, he did NOT lose his name, his father, his family. He was still a SON.

III. The Nature of Salvation – A Gift of Grace. By definition – undeserved, unmerited favor

A. Saved by Grace - Eph. 2:8-10

B. Cleansed by Grace – I John 1:8-9

C. Kept by Grace – Jude 24-25 Rom. 8:35-39 – We’re kept by His goodness

IV. Old Testament Pictures

A. The Abrahamic Covenant – an unconditional, one-sided covenant. Only God walked! The covenant was not based on Abraham’s deeds but on God’s promise.

The New Covenant doesn’t depend on me but on Him!!

B. Israel in the Wilderness – they wouldn’t see the Promised Land, but they were led, protected, cared for

C. Israel in Exile – they where there as punishment because of their sins, but they were not disowned or abandoned, etc.

V. Character Studies

A. Adam and Eve – Gen. 3 – they were exiled but not abandoned

B. David and Bathsheba – 2 Sam. 11-12 Psalm 51:12

C. What about Judas Iscariot? - John 6:70-71 John 17:12 This was not a falling from grace. Never was in grace.

VI. False Conversions

A. 2 Pet. 2:20-22 – didn’t lose it, but were on the brink and turned back.

B. 1 John 2:18-19 - “never of us”

C. Matt. 7:21 – “not everyone who says to me…..”

It’s a matter of profession vs. possession.

Some Objections to "once saved, always saved".

1. It seem unreasonable.- yes, it does, except in the light of grace. Example: Matt. 20 – parable of the 12th. hour worker

2. It’s a license to sin. Not when properly taught and applied. Jude 4

Nobody properly handling these scriptures believes this. No more than a “get resaved” doctrine.

3. There are scriptures that teach otherwise.

Granted!! But some can be explained, some appear to teach the possible loss of salvation. (addressed in evening service) The bulk of scripture supports eternal security.

A. the danger of “once saved…” – belief that you are all right because of a profession and a prayer.- therefore you are safe and secure. That’s putting your faith in a teaching, not Jesus Christ. 2 Cor. 13:5 A profession and prayer doesn’t save us. Christ saves us. You cannot bank of security of the believer if you are not a believer!!

B. The importance of “once saved…” – you have trust, confidence, security in Christ.


1. Know what you believe and why

2. Recognize and allow a scriptural alternative (PM service)

3. Don’t make this a test of fellowship

4. Focus on “believer” rather than “security”

5. Put your faith in Christ, not in a teaching

6. Commit yourself fully to the Lord – your past, present, future – and trust Him. Psalm 121:1-8

Monday, September 15, 2008

Sources of Doubt & Uncertainty Re. Salvation

Review Scripture: I John 5:11-13 – Summary – “That you might know

Last Week – Being Sure of Your Salvation”. Where then do these doubts come from?

It’s true that ultimately they come from Satan. He WANTS you to be UNSAVED first of all, and UNSURE if you are already saved.

HOWEVER, he cannot create these things that cause doubts out of nothing. He can ONLY use tools supplied to him. And many times we supply him with these tools.

As stated last week, those who most question their salvation are Christians. Before salvation, Satan wants you to be secure in your lost-ness. After salvation, Christians tend to develop a disease called “yeahbuts”. This is an affliction of a great number of Christians. “Yeah, but, I don’t feel saved.” Yeah, but, I still do bad things, so I must not be saved.” Etc., etc.

Here are 11 possible sources of doubt concerning your salvation.

#1. A Lack of Biblical understanding.

Romans 10:17

You can know scripture through memorization, study, etc. but not understand it. It is IMPORTANT to be in a good, Bible-teaching church. You MUST have Biblical understanding ( know what the scriptures mean.)

#2. A lack of counsel. Shared wisdom, knowledge, experience, discipleship, mentoring, etc.

Prov. 11:14

Prov. 24:6

#3. A lack of growth (maturity)

Without growth, you get confused which leads you to pull back and sit down so you don’t grow and that leads to more uncertainty.

Eph. 4:14

A good way to offset this cycle = stay hooked up and continue to learn and thereby grow.

#4. A lack of experiences. You don’t see or have any things happening in life, so doubt the reality of your salvation.

BUT NOTE: A. God gives enough evidence Mark 8:11 & 12

B. Experiences don’t convince, and won’t solidify our faith.

Examples: a. Israel and the exodus. They saw miracle after miracle, but when things got rough, they didn’t believe God would take care of them.

b. Jesus and signs. The people wanted signs and more signs. But, in spite of all the signs and miracles He’d already performed, they still didn’t believe Who He was.

#5. Response to feelings. Emotions are NOT a reliable measure!!! Don’t measure reality by your feelings.

Some Christians are like an emotional roller coaster – feel saved when they are up and don’t feel saved when they are down.

Some Christians are an emotional freight train (stoic) – these are the ones who keep plugging along but NEVER feel saved.

#6. Repeated failures.

Especially: A. Moral failures

BUT even B. amoral failures (financial, relational, career, etc.)

John the Baptist had doubts when he was in prison; Paul had apparent failure with the churches at Galatia and Corinth. Does that mean that those two weren’t saved???

Romans 3:23

Romans 7:21

#7. A faulty view of yourself. – I’m not good. I keep messing up. I’m a failure and a screwup. I must be inferior. (Inferiority complex).


HOWEVER, you are lovable, valuable, and salvageable.

John 3:16

Phil. 1:6 - “will continue” if YOU let HIM!!

#8. A faulty view of others. – Assume they are better! Doing fine!!

The FACT is: Every Christian is Struggling! Regardless of appearances!!!

Romans 3:23

There is a great need for Christian transparency. To share with each others our troubles and doubts and struggles. We ARE NOT ALONE in our struggles.

#9. A faulty view of salvation. (Refer to point #1)

Eph. 2:8 & 9

What is it? - “gift”

How do you get it? – accept

How do you keep it? - You don’t! God keeps it for you!

#10. Any combination of the above. (As Satan sees the opportunity to use these.)

One more totally separate from these first 10.

#11. The Holy Spirit. Perhaps there IS a lack of salvation. It is His job to convict and convince you of that fact.

So, How should you respond? Combat?

#1. Recognize it’s God’s will for you to know your standing – lost or saved.

#2. Examine yourself. 2 Cor. 13:5

#3. Get counsel (if needed) from pastor/leader/teacher/friend, etc.

#4. Get Christ (if necessary)

#5. Establish your standing (determine it) Know where you are.

#6. STAND THERE! I Pet. 5:8 & 9

Monday, September 8, 2008

Being Certain of Your Salvation

I John 5:11-13

Statistics show that most people believe in heaven and believe they’ll go there.

The Surprise is how many people struggle with and doubt their salvation AFTER accepting Christ.

So –

The 4-H test of Eternal Life (credit to Gaylon Kemp)

I. The Head Test - examine your decision.
Rom. 10:9 & 10

A. is the Bible trustworthy?
B. have you done this?
C. Is God faithful?

On the one hand it IS more than a verbal claim.
Matt. 7:21

James 2:19

But, it is as simple as deciding and crossing the bridge
John 1:12

John 5:37

What if ????? I don’t feel saved? Example: just because sometimes you don’t feel the passion, does that mean you’re not married?
I wasn’t sincere? Are you sincere NOW?
I can’t identify the time? Place? Question: Do you remember your physical birth? Just because you don’t actually remember being born doesn’t mean that you are NOT here.


II. The Heart Test – examine your affections

I John 2:9

I John 3:14

I John 4:7

The point is: Do you love God? Do you love the things of God?

Examine your love for God’s Word, teaching, people, church, work and mission, kingdom.

III. The Hands Test – examine your actions (lifestyle)

I John 2:3
I John 3:6
I John 3:17-19

The point is: internal change should equal external evidence – FRUIT

IV. The Health test – examine your growth (progress)

I Pet. 2:2
II Pet. 3:18

Point: “new birth” leads to “new life” and that leads to “growth and development”


#1. There should be some evidence in all 4 categories.

Example: the “good man/good old boy” – has fruit/actions. BUT no decision? No affection? No growth?

#2. You’ll never score perfect in any category. We’re sinners and faulty and imperfect.
Rom. 3:23

#3. Your heart will condemn you. I John 3:19 & 20

Don’t measure only by the failures! Note the successes also!

#4. The struggle is often evidence of salvation. (or a willingness to receive it)
Rom. 7:15-24 – The description of a saved person, not a lost person.

#5. Change, Growth, and Transformation is a process.
A. it happens slowly
B. it happens in small increments
C. it is hard to measure
D. it is especially hard to measure by “self”.
The Christian tendency is to measure where we are by where we should be!! Instead of where we’ve come from!

#6. God wants you to be confident in your relationship with Him.
I John 5:13

#7. You can have this confidence – this is God’s will.

1. Consider this material and these tests. Examine your standing 2 Cor. 13:5
2. Accept Christ if necessary
3. Ask for help if uncertain
4. Stand firm if you pass the test.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Christian Pay Ethic

Scripture says when you hire someone, you should pay them properly.

Lev 19:13 “You shall not cheat your neighbor, nor rob him. The wages of him who is hired shall not remain with you all night until morning.” Pay when pay is due. Don’t withhold. Workman is worthy of his due.

Deut. 24:14 & 15 “You shall not oppress a hired servant who is poor and needy,……Each day you shall give him his wages, and not let the sun go down on it,…”

Deut. 15:12-15 “If your brother is sold to you, ….in the seventh year you shall let him go free….. you shall not let him go away empty-handed; you shall supply him liberally….” God took care of them, now God was going to take care of these people through them.

Mal. 3:5 “And I will come near you for judgment,….against those who exploit wage earners….” Express God’s love and generosity by dealing well with laborers

I Cor. 9:9 & 10 “For it is written……”You shall not muzzle the ox while it reads out the grain.” ….he who plows should plow in hope, and he who threshes in hope should partaker of his hope.” Moral principle: if you are benefiting from other’s labor, they should share in the benefiting.

The world says: Love things and use people to gain those things.

Christian philosophy says; love people and use things to help them.

Monday, September 1, 2008

The Christian Work Ethic

NOTE: Labor Day was begun in 1882 as a day to recognize the common worker/laborer.

In 1894 it was designated as a Federal holiday.

The Christian Work Ethic – Moral stance on working based on Scripture

2 Thess. 3:6-15 A warning against idleness.


#1. God intends us to work! Gen. 2:15 “Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden o Eden to tend and keep it.” – before the fall.
Gen. 3:19 ”In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread….” after the fall

#2. “Work” is not just physical labor. It also includes mental and spiritual labor.

Ex. Farm, craft,business/home (Mom), temple/church, mission field

#3. in the Old Testament:

A. the skilled worker was highly esteemed

B. Common labor was considered honorable

C. Idleness/laziness was considered a disgrace!

Prov. 10:4 & 5; 12:11; 14:23; 18:9

#4. Same work ethic carried into the New Testament

A. Jesus – born into working class/trained as a carpenter

B. evident in His stories/parables “wicked lazy servant”.

C. was part of Jesus’ moral makeup. John 4:34; 4:15 & 17; 17:4

D. embraced by Christians as part of who we are and what we do!


#1. This is an important issue.

A. 2nd. Only to the 2nd. Coming (in the # of verses in this letter.)

B. It’s also addressed in the 1st. letter!

C. Serious enough to merit (light/mild) church discipline! “do not associate with!”

#2. This is no merely a Thessalonian issue.

Vs. 6 refers to Christian teaching and Christian tradition – it’s for all Christians!

#3. This is a spiritual issue!!!

Vs. 6 “in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you….”

Vs. 12 – same


Why is it so important for Christians to work hard and well?


#1. To provide for your own. 2 Thess. 3:8 – “..not to be a burden”

A. Your family is your responsibility. I Tim. 5:8 “But if anyone does not provide for his own…..,he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”

B. There is no free lunch! (Somebody pays for it)

#2. To be able to help others. Eph. 4:28 “…let him labor …. that he may have something to give him who has need.”

Acts 20:34 & 35 “…I have shown you in every way that you must support the weak. …..”It is more blessed to give than to receive.” “

#3. For personal satisfaction and fulfillment.

Eccles. 2:24 “ Nothing is better for a man ….that his soul should enjoy good in his labor. This also, I saw, was from the hand of God.” / 3:12 & 13 “….and also that every man should eat and drink and enjoy the good of all his labor – it is the gift of God.”

#4. To set an example. 2Thess. 3: 7, 9 (see original text) Acts 20:35 “I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this,….”

“always preach a powerful sermon, when necessaryuse words. It’s much more powerful when lived rather than just said!

#5. To honor God. Col. 3:23 & 24 “And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men,…”

We honor obedience. For example: the Puritan thought was Work is a form of Worship.

#6. To reflect God’s character. Ie: to reveal/manifest/glorify Him so people can see Christ in us. Christian means “little Christ”.

John 5:17 “But Jesus answered them, “My Father has been working until now, and I have been working.” “ 17:4 “I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do.”

#7. To share Christ. 1 Thess. 4:11 & 12 “……to work with your own hands….. that you may walk properly toward those who are outside,…”

Earn respect to earn the opportunity to share the message in order to WIN Souls.

#8. To keep you out of trouble. 2 Thess. 3: 11 & 12 “….there are some who walk among you in a disorderly manner, not working at all, but are busybodies. ….”

“idle hands are the devil’s workshop”

If you are busy with the “shoulds”, you won’t have time for “should nots”


Important point: It is true that we should work hard and well and that honors God and commends you to God…..

BUT.... it does NOT save you. It is not the bridge or the pathway to God.

Eph. 2: 8 & 9 “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”

If you embrace the teachings why not embrace the Teacher???