Friday, March 13, 2009

# 273: What Should We Look For?

It was said that there are several hundred different Christian religions in America alone. That is hard to believe. And even if that isn’t true, still there are many. Of these religions, most claim their belief system is true to the New Testament (NT).

What should a person do when deciding what the true belief system is and which ones are false? When a person desires to find the one closest to the NT (genuine Christianity), there are several things to look for. This post will give specific details to give you a better chance of deciding which one, most likely, will be the right choice.

The true Christian religion is spiritual from the start to the end. That implies that engaging in secular activities is not a part of the spiritual world--although we live in a secular world, it is prudent to do the necessary things, and if possible no more. I am not saying we should neglect certain important duties that are our responsibility, but that we should not engage in activities that do not further the cause of Christ or enchant and enrich our spiritual experience. This last sentence says a mouthful.

There are many churches that promote activities that have nothing to do with promoting the gospel of Jesus Christ, and therefore are not spiritual. Some of these activities are decent and enjoyable to get involved in, but that secular participation displays signs which identify those churches as straying from the truth. Since the Christian religion is a spiritual experience, only activities which have something to do with Biblical teachings are spiritual.

Clearly, every person who claims to be a genuine Christian has been empowered with the Holy Spirit of God. That Spirit will lead us in holy ways that are not desired by the secular world. In several places in Scripture, receiving the Holy Spirit is called the baptism of the Holy Spirit; in other places, it is not.

How do we know for certain that we possess that Spirit, since there are many who claim to be indwelled with the Spirit of Christ but live lives in which it would be impossible to tell they are Christians? Answer: anyone who lives that way and does not conform with faith in Christ, love for God and others, holiness that separates us from the norm, and obedience to the Spirit’s prompting that complies with the NT, may not have God’s Holy Spirit. The spirit they have may be the spirit of the world, which is totally normal for the worldly, but not for us who have been blessed with the Spirit of God.

An even better way to be assured is if we get unique thoughts, which are the work of the Spirit that display His presence and are not conducive to our sinful human nature. When we continually obey the Spirit’s prompting, while putting aside thoughts and actions that benefit only ourselves, it is pretty good evidence to the fact that the Holy Spirit is living in us and will remain in us. It is the spirit’s presence in our lives that makes us spiritual entities/beings.

One possible exception would be when individuals are new to the faith and are sincere in a desire to be and do all that is required. Those people will receive power to live as directed when the Holy Spirit takes over their lives.

There are seven verses in the NT that use the word “mature,” which seems to indicate that when people hear about the Christian faith (the Word) and are interested, yet giving up many of life’s riches and pleasures may not sit right with them; therefore, they do not mature. These may be the ones without the Spirit. One thing is for sure: the Christian life cannot be lived as required without the indwelling Spirit. The Apostle Paul confirms this spiritual fact in Romans 8:6, which I have refereed to many times. “And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.” By the way, the Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit, the Spirit with an uppercase S, and the Spirit of Christ, are one and the same.

Here is an interesting NT verse: Matthew 19:20: ”At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.” When we are challenged to answer certain difficult questions, and we are lost for words (we don’t know the answer), this above verse may come into play. This has happened to me. I call this a small miracle; our mouths start uttering words that are not our own. Even though we will be shocked, we try not to show it. Lo and behold, our answer may be new to us, but it is according to Scripture, and has silenced our questionnaire. If and when this does happen to us, it is good confirmation to believe we are empowered with the Spirit of God. To believe these phenomena (small miracles) can really happen to ordinary Christians, it has to happen first and then we will believe it.

All human beings were born with the capacity to become spiritual beings. In fact, those who don’t take advantage of this precious gift of the Holy Spirit of God will never reach their full potential. What I mean is that regardless of what we aspire to be or to have will never completely satisfy us as long as we are still only doing and having things that are of this world. When the Holy Spirit enters a person, that person is on his/her way to start living a full and completely satisfying life. We were created for that specific purpose.

Actually, there is nothing we can do that is spiritual in nature without God’s Holy Spirit living in us. When the Spirit enters our lives, these are the most important events and the only thing that will empower us to live in a way that pleases God. This doesn’t mean that there aren’t religious people who are preaching and seem to be living holy lives that don’t possess the Holy Spirit. It is a shame to say that they are in the majority. They are the ones this blog has been exposing as frauds. It breaks my heart for the people who are hooked on (and honestly believe) their pleasant, ear-tickling gospel as the truth.

Again, it is the Spirit of God that provides the power to make genuine Christianity the vibrant religion that it is or should be. Of course, along with that, what is needed is to have humans like others and myself that are willing to obey the Spirit’s prompting to live holy lives.

Did anyone ever think what Christianity would be like, if after Christ’s resurrection, He did not go to heaven after being with His disciples for 40 days, but would continually remain with us and never age? To make certain that no one would start teaching false doctrines by ignoring many hard-edged parts of Scripture that don’t sit well with them? Of course, that would be next to impossible; the reason is that without aging and eventual death, He would not be totally human anymore. And we need a human as our role model, one who has been tempted in every way and yet without sin.

In His place, God left us humans (genuine active disciples) to do that work for Him. Then why have false doctrines plagued almost every segment of the Christian world? I would guess that not many churches want to go against the flow. This blog has been going against the natural flow of life for almost four years telling it like it is, regardless of what the clergy and other die-hard orthodox “Christians” say. This goes to show that the truth is not always pleasant to hear and abide by. Nowhere in the complete NT does it say or even imply that the Christian life would be like a walk in the park. 1st Peter 4:18: “And, if it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?” Stay away from them; with all their sweet words of comfort, acceptance, etc., they will lead you straight to hell.

Another false assumption we must look out for is when a church does not require anything from its parishioners except to attend church regularly, go to mid-week study group, tithe 10% weekly and be good all week long. That is all that a majority of large denominations ask of us once we become Christians. That activity could be part of the Christian life, but by itself it is worthless in the sight of God. Christianity is a complete life change empowered by the Holy Spirit to live a spiritual life as taught by the NT.

Be suspicious of all churches that don’t emphasize studying the NT every day. I don’t mean just by reading a passage or two, but studying it as if it is a matter of life and death, which it is-- for you, you’re family and possibly others.

Don’t take any church’s word as to what is in our Holy Book; they mostly likely will leave out extremely important sections. Those sections are the ones that can make Christ’s work on the cross, valid in our lives. Those verses stress obedience to all that is commanded in the NT. Even though obedience will save no one, it is the main evidence that our belief is real. No obedience, no Salvation. If I were to count all the verses in the NT that mention the words obedience, obey, disobey, disobedient, disobeying, disobeyed, disobeys, obedience, obedient and obeying, there would be well over a hundred. How often has anyone heard the word obedience stressed and even enforced from the pulpit as to its importance in God’s plan of Salvation? Think about it!

Another thing to watch out for is the mega churches. The main reason they got so large in the first place is that they give their parishioners what they desire. They are lavished with whatever their worldly hearts desire. If they were to preach even a small part of what this blog teaches, they would cease to exist. A good example of mega churches is one of the largest churches in America, the one where Joel Osteen is pastor. He and others like him are a disgrace to real Christianity. Those who attend mega churches don’t know what is taught in the NT, even though they always have their Bibles in hand when they are attending church services.

If you forget or ignore everything in this post, please for your eternal sake, study the NT; then everyone will understand what pastors like Olsteen do not preach. As I have said many times in this blog: living the life of a genuine Christian will be the most difficult and challenging life in existence. The reason is because the teachings of Jesus Christ are totally contrary to what our sinful nature desires and what the world enjoys. This could be the reason why Christ said, “For many are invited, but few are chosen.” Matthew 22:14. Also, Matthew 7:13: “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a FEW find it.”

Let me end with this sobering thought: if it sounds good and pleasing to the ear, run--don’t walk--away from that church and all that it teaches.

No comments: