The name CHRISTIAN has become a very broad concept. It is being used so loosely that it has all but lost its true meaning. To some people it merely means going to church, following some rules and enjoying the social activities, but to others it means a deep commitment to God. There are Orthodox, Catholic and fundamental Christians; they subscribe to a variety of doctrines, yet they all call themselves Christians. Very often Christians fight other Christians.
Calling oneself a Christian does not mean that one is a Christian in the true sense of the word. A person can belong to a church organization, accept the doctrines and the behavior patterns of that church, yet not be a Christian, or a follower of Christ in the scriptural usage of the word.
Of those who call themselves Christians, very few are truly enChristed. Most of them are part of the great falling away, or the great apostasy. Believers in Jesus Christ were first called Christians in the coastal city of Antioch in northern Syria. (Acts 11:26)
A Christian is a believer in the God who was revealed to us in Jesus Christ. That is why Christians proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord, and demonstrate His lordship in the way they live. Since He is our Master and Ruler, and we do whatever He tells us to do; we no longer do what we want to do. We turn from doing our own will. If we say He is our Lord, but don't obey Him, we are hypocrites - pretending to be better that we are.
No doubt every Christian is guilty of this to some degree. However, when he recognizes that he is guilty of this, he will repent, receive forgiveness and turn from this deception. There is a growing desire in the heart of every true Christian to walk and live in truth, and become more like Jesus.
Christians know that God loves them. He demonstrated His love to us by giving us Jesus Christ!
It was necessary for God to show people that He loved them, because they were, and still are, ignorant of this fact. They thought they had to earn God's love by obeying many rules. Many still think so. They think God does not love them when they are disobedient and selfish, and have difficulties, sorrows, accidents, etc.
The truth is: God always loves us! He loved us even when we were His enemies, hated Him, denied His existence, murdered, cheated and were angry! We cannot do anything that will separate us from the love of God, nor can people do anything to us that will separate us from the love of God!
Our wrong ideas about God cause us to think that we are separated from His love. Our pride can stop us from having fellowship with God. Our unbelief can stop us from entering into a relationship with God, but it will not stop God from loving us.
When Adam and Eve sinned, they thought their disobedience had separated them from God's love; they tried to hide from God so He would not find out about their disobedience. These bad feelings were only on their side - they were not on God's side! Their image of God was wrong; their words and actions revealed what was going on in their minds! Adam blamed God and his wife for his disobedience. He quickly forgot how happy he had been to receive a wife and companion. You see, Adam did not know God; he did not know that God still loved him. When we see this, we come into unity and harmony with God.
These wrong ideas about God are also prevalent today. People still don't know that God is good and that He can do no wrong. They blame God for the wrong things they do. They do not know that God IS love, that He cannot do evil because He never wills to do evil, and that He is very concerned about them. Since they are unaware of His love, grace and greatness, they do not trust Him; nor do they believe what He says.
Instead, they trust their own false ideas, which cause them to worry and fear. To admit error leaves them without a foundation and therefore helpless. Since they want to be in charge of their own lives, they choose for themselves instead of believing God. But there is always the fear of failure - and rightly so!
God sent His Son into a world where people had many wrong ideas about God. Only Jesus had the right idea about God! He came to live among all those wrong ideas and gave us the true image of who God is. He came in the form of a man, so that we might understand that God loves us. He explained God to us and showed us God's deep love for us. Of course, people did not like to be wrong, nor did they want to leave their traditions. They thought the only way they could keep their traditions was by killing Him who is the truth!
But truth cannot be eradicated! Truth has substance; it has foundation. Lies can be eradicated, because they do not have substance nor foundation. Truth reveals and destroys lies. If someone is accused of stealing money, and this accusation is later proved to be wrong, the truth will destroy the false accusation - the lie. But truth cannot be destroyed!
Jesus suffered the most inhumane torture known to man! Yet He continued to love and forgive everyone! This was a revelation of the Father's love for all people! Even the most terrible things we do against God cannot separate us from His love and forgiveness! This is the greatness of His love! Do we understand this love? Will we yield to His love, or will we continue in our old thinking? What will it take for us to admit that our own thinking is wrong, and to believe that God loves us?
God was pleased with the way Jesus revealed God's love to mankind. He said,
True Christians are people who believe in Jesus, and have repented of their own ideas of who God is. They believe that Jesus died for them and was resurrected out of death, so that He can now impart His life to them.
Christ does not impart His life to our old nature, for that nature will never improve. He causes us to be born of the Spirit; this new creation that we are, is a spiritual creation and is without sin. Since we have the righteousness of Christ, we are free from sin. We have to grow and develop by listening to the Spirit and being obedient to His voice.
This does not mean that people who believe in Jesus never do any wrong. The old selfish desires are still in the flesh. Believers have to learn that they do not obey those desires. As they are obedient to the government of the Spirit, they will not indulge in the lusts of the flesh. They will live according to their new nature.
Jesus said some startling things. He said that anyone who was not gathering with Him was scattering. This sounds like an absolute. He also said,
Sarah, the true wife, represents the Jerusalem above; she is the free woman. Her children are born of the promise! Isaac was born when Abraham could no longer produce a child in the natural, and Sarah was past the child-bearing years. Then God planted a seed, and Isaac was born in a miraculous way. Abraham could not have produced him on his own. So those who are children of the promise today, are born of the incorruptible seed of God.
Abraham was the father of both Ishmael and Isaac, but they had different mothers. The mother we have makes a big difference! If we are born of the New Jerusalem, the Jerusalem above, we are not in bondage; we are free, for we are not born of the flesh. However, there are many more Ishmaels, born of the bondwoman, than there are Isaacs, born of the free woman. The Isaacs are the children of promise.
Ishmael persecuted Isaac. Paul said the same thing is happening today.
The message of John the Baptist has come into our life. Unless we have truly repented, we may read and study the law and the prophets and retain a natural hope, instead of receiving a living hope. A natural hope in heaven, in God, in the coming again of Jesus and the restoration of the world, is not a living hope! Christ is the spiritual fulfillment of what the law was prophesying, so if we remain in our natural thinking, we remain anti Christ. The natural is always against the spiritual!
Going to an altar, becoming ashamed of our sins and receiving forgiveness, does not mean that we have received a true understanding of God. A true understanding has to be revealed to us by the Holy Spirit!
We are born of incorruptible or imperishable seed through the living and enduring word of God! (1 Peter l:23) This gives birth to incorruption, to a heavenly spiritual man. This man is housed in the physical man, but has nothing in common with him! We are new creatures in Christ Jesus! If we have been born anew, we are new! All things have become new; now we see things from a spiritual standpoint!
Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of the prophecies. All the promises of God have their "Yes" and "Amen" (their fulfillment) in Christ. Natural thinking hopes to see them fulfilled in the natural realm. It does not see that Christ is the fulfillment of what was typified by the nation of Israel, the people, the land, the tabernacle, the temple, the offerings and sacrifices. Even the holy days and Sabbaths have their substance and fulfillment in Christ in the Spirit.
We are in the body of Christ, and are told to grow up into the head. This necessitates a release from our natural thinking, and our bondage to laws, doctrines and baptisms. These things are meaningful because they are stepping stones in our growth into the head, which is Christ, but they are not an end in themselves.
The head is the place of understanding; it knows what the body is, and gives direction to the body. Christ is the head, and we are to grow up into His understanding. We have received the mind of Christ! Just as Christ knew that He was the Son of God, that He was spiritual and that it is impossible for that nature to sin, so we are also to know that! As we grow in that nature, it frees us from the confusion, the flesh, and the consciousness of the old man. This is what Christianity is about.
Jesus called Himself the Son of Man. The Son of Man is the Christ, the Anointed One, the spiritual man who came down from heaven. (John 3:l3) This means that there was a man in heaven before the physical man, Jesus, was manifested in the flesh. The spiritual man was contained in the natural man Jesus, but He was hidden or veiled by the flesh.
To see who He truly is, the flesh had to be taken away. Let me paraphrase what Jesus said in
Jesus experienced a dramatic change at the Jordan River. For thirty years He had walked in the law. At the Jordan He repented and turned away from the law and from the natural hope of Israel, to the spiritual fulfillment! The Spirit came down on Him, and God said,
The natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit. He constantly opposes the Spirit. Since he is under the law, the law has to deal with him. The law and the prophets were in effect until John. When the spiritual came, they were no longer in effect. This shows us that the fulfillment is in the spiritual realm. God has made us spiritual beings in Christ so that we can now understand spiritual realities.
Those who are still under the law and have not repented of the natural, are living in death. Unless they receive the Holy Spirit and His teaching they can talk about Jesus, heaven, etc., yet not understand spiritual things. Their hope will be heaven, and they will look for a physical coming of Jesus. They think fulfillment will take place in the natural realm. These things are against Christ, because they are conceived in the mind of man, and not in the Spirit; they are not revelation. Only the Holy Spirit can reveal to us that we are children of God. Without this revelation we will continue to call ourselves sinners.
Subjection to the voice of the Holy Spirit is the key to understanding spiritual things. Understanding cannot come by studying, speculation, interpretation, fasting, or prayer. It has to come by revelation! We need to be released from all our self-effort - like trying to be good Christians, trying to be holy, trying to quit sinning - and allow God's Spirit to teach us; His life-giving words will produce life in us. They will take away that which we have vainly tried to get rid of. That is the process by which we become children of God. Paul never called people Christians. He basically called them saints, which means whole and set-apart for God. He also called them believers - believers in Christ Jesus.
On the day of Pentecost Peter said,
The Spirit who is in Christ, is light, illumination, or understanding. This is the coming of the light of Christ! Compared to that light, natural light fades or is darkened. Natural light (sun and moon) dims in the presence of spiritual light. As our appreciation of spiritual things increases, our appreciation of natural things decreases. The coming of the Spirit brings this about!
In Ephesians l:l0 Paul says that all things are summed up in Christ. In other words, everything God did from the beginning is summed up in Jesus Christ. In Him are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. (Colossians 2:3) So in Christ we have everything we need!
In the beginning of our Christian walk we seem to need crutches and stepping stones, such as baptisms and communions. But Christ did not need any of those things because they are simply types of heavenly things. As we grow up in Christ, we realize that Christ is both our food and drink. As we partake of Him, we can share the
In order to grow in our Christian life we need to have a desire for more of God! We must want Him to be Lord in our life. If we only want God as a Provider, or as an Eraser of our sin-consciousness, or for our own purposes, protection, etc., we will never understand true Christianity; nor will we grow into Christ.
True Christianity is a total subjection to God! It is more than only coming to Him when we are troubled with despair, sickness, financial problems, marriage problems, etc. Coming to God for forgiveness and release is the basis for entering into what Christianity is. In Christianity, Christ is our life! We want to live for God even when we are healthy, full of joy, and everything is going well for us! We want God - not only His blessings for this life!
Often people only want God to get them out of their mistakes! They want His forgiveness and His goodness, but they are not interested in having Him take over their life and change them. They do not want their natural hope of spiritual things taken away.
We appreciate good laws and a good moral government! But good laws cannot implement righteousness or morality! They cannot change people inwardly! Anti-abortion laws, anti-drug and anti-pornography laws will not put an end to these practices. In one country an official was sent to a certain city to clean up all the pornographic magazines. Later they discovered that instead of destroying them, he hoarded them and studied them. When Christians want to be in government to make this world a better place, they do not understand that righteousness does not come by the law. Good laws provide disciplinary measures when the rules are not obeyed, but they cannot change people! Laws cannot enforce morality!
Righteousness does not come by the law. If righteousness comes by the law, then Christ died needlessly. (Gal. 2:2l) If we are trying to implement righteousness through the law, we are thereby saying that Christ died needlessly. Christ never tried to change the world; He never paid any attention to the Roman system, and He never got after the hierarchy the Romans had put in authority over the Jews. He did not tell us to fight for the world, nor to clean up the world. He simply called people out of the world system and into the kingdom of God. God is calling people to come out of the world and to enter the kingdom of God by the Holy Spirit.
People who are in politics in order to bring the masses into morality through the law, will fail even as Moses did. It is very interesting to note that Jesus said to the Israelites,
It is so important that we believe in the message Moses gave us! Christianity is founded in the
We have the same problem today. God sent the law as a preparation for receiving Christ. John the Baptist was the trumpet call to harvest the fruit of the law. The law is a ministry of death. (2 Cor. 3:7,9) The law was not given to make us righteous, for it judges and condemns. It brings us to the place where we can see that we are totally empty of any kind of righteousness, and we can do nothing of ourselves.
The law tells us that we do not want God, that we cannot find Him, and that we are hopeless without Him. What a predicament! The prophets brought hope by saying that the Messiah would come to take man out of this dilemma. However, most people were ignorant of their dilemma, so they felt no need of getting out. Therefore, when John the Baptist heralded the coming Messiah, he was put into prison and eventually decapitated.
At the Jordan River, Jesus repented of following the law. Our repentance also involves a turning away from the law, its concepts and its hope, and receiving the fulfillment that is in Christ. This can only happen as we obey the Holy Spirit. Repentance does not consist of our trying to get rid of our sins by turning away from sin. It is much more than that! We are to die to the Adamic man whose nature it is to sin, so that we can receive the spiritual man whose nature is not to sin. This is Christianity.
Christianity is not a law for righteousness. Getting under the bondage of doctrines, baptisms, paying tithes, etc., is not Christianity. If any of them become our master, we are trying to serve two masters. But we cannot serve two masters! Will we believe Christ or will we believe human institutions? If we want to follow Christ who is the fulfillment of all things, and in whom all things are summed up, He has to be our Master!
Churches have been guilty of sending out false prophets - denominational pastors who come in the cloak of a lamb, but put people in bondage. Eventually they take what people have and give them nothing in return. Churches have been guilty of sending out missionaries to other lands to build denominations instead of leading them into Christ.
Antichrist is anything or anyone that takes the place of Christ or is substituted for Christ Himself. John speaks about many antichrists, so antichrist does not refer to only one individual.
Legalism can come into our lives very subtly. Our basis for righteousness can become imbedded in certain dress codes, behavior patterns, baptisms, and communions. When this happens we are back in the law, and Christ has died needlessly. Victory is in Christ, the anointed Word of God. It is not obtained by keeping the law, nor by doing things according to a prescribed way.
God showed man that the law could not help him overcome the sin nature within him. God wrote the law on stone and gave His people all the "thou shalt nots". But man could not help doing the things he was told not to do. Everybody failed. There is no power in the law to help us obey its commandments. The law just gives commands and tells us what to do.
Our problem is that we do not want to let go of the law. Through the law is the knowledge of sin; this knowledge brought guilt and condemnation. The law was to lead us to repentance and the willingness to receive Christ. The purpose of the law was to bring us into a revelation of who we are - not of who God is. Through the law the boasting of the whole world is to be stopped, as everyone becomes guilty before God. This is the message God is giving us through the law. Receiving this message is the beginning of being taught by God! Since the law had such a wonderful purpose, it is most important that we allow the law to teach us, that we may receive all that Christ is.
Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every man who believes! The teaching of the law ends in Christ and He becomes our new teacher. When Christ takes over, the law no longer has dominion over us! As we embrace Christ and His teachings, our sin-consciousness will end and so will the condemnation. The realization that righteousness does not come through keeping the law frees us from the law. This realization comes by receiving the mind of Christ - the consciousness that is in Christ!
Once we realize our inability to keep the law, we are in a position to receive the help that is in Christ Jesus. Rather than trying to get sin out of the way, we bring in Christ. The coming of Christ causes the sin to go. If we want to get rid of sin, we welcome more of the Christ, because Christ is the power, the spiritual Word of God that empowers us to receive new knowledge and new desires. Christ displaces the old desires.
Christ is the Alpha and the Omega. That means He is the beginning and the ending. Since He is the first letter and the last letter of the alphabet, it means He is also all the letters in between. Words are formed from letters.
Christ is also the life! In order to postpone death, people are exercising, and using medicines, health foods, etc. These sustain life to a degree, but they do not prevent death. Only life can do away with death! Death cannot exist where there is life. Jesus Christ proved that! He came into the realm of death, and death could not hold Him. He now gives us the same Spirit that was in Him. Life conquers death, and light conquers darkness!
Man has lived in error and deception ever since he ate of the forbidden fruit. At that time man received a wrong image of himself and of God. Satan operates by error and deception. He is completely void of truth. In the parable of the wheat and tares, the wheat represents truth, and the tares represent error. Christ said,
Christ Jesus, the truth, helps us to see evil and error for what they really are. Evil never changes into something good. As we follow truth, we are released from error and wrong thinking, and come into a greater knowledge of God and the greatness of His love for us!
This is the way it works in the Christian life. When we quit trying to deal with sin, and instead, embrace the Christ and His words, sin loses its grip on us. Preoccupation with sin, feeds sin. Preoccupation with Christ, feeds our spiritual life! Righteousness comes by agreeing with God and acting on what He has said.
God said that heaven and earth could not contain Him, so no one can build a house for Him. God does not dwell in temples made with human hands. (Acts 7:48; 17:24) If we believe that, we will not call a building the house of God! God inhabits the temples He has made; He inhabits the new creation man and makes His abode in us!
To grow in our Christian life, we have to put away all our natural conceptions, and allow the Spirit of God to teach us. In our subjection to Christ, we learn that our problems disappear when light and understanding come in.
Christ gave us a new covenant with better promises than those of the old covenant. But we could not put the old covenant away before we had a new one, because we need something to hang on to. Now that we have the new covenant with its better promises, we can let go of the old! In Christ, God has taken care of our salvation! Our salvation does not depend on our self-effort, but on faith in Christ! Anything that is not of faith is sin. The anointing we have received will teach us all things. So the principle for victorious living is obedience to the voice of the Holy Spirit!
The law is bearing fruit in us when we receive an understanding of sin, and the knowledge of our total inability to achieve righteousness on our own. If the law does not bear fruit in us, we will depend on our own righteousness, just like the Pharisees, Sadducees and scribes. They even tried to impress others with their own righteousness by their long public prayers, their conscientious paying of tithes and their strict observance of the law. Do you think that this is still happening today?
We need Christ! We need to receive spiritual food for growth instead of a review of all the sins and shortcomings in the old carnal nature. Being told to quit sinning, to quit losing our temper, etc., only brings condemnation. Receiving the nature of Christ helps us to overcome these things!
"God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation."
Reconciliation means to make friendly again, to bring into peace and harmony. Our wrong ideas about God brought a separation between Him and us. We thought that we had to do good things to win the love of God. Jesus is God's revelation of Himself and His love to us. Christ did not come to condemn us, but to bring us life by releasing us from sin. This enables reconciliation to take place. He does not make us feel ashamed of our old self in order to make us try to be better Christians. Reconciliation is a process that leads to restoration. He releases us from our sins and gives us love, righteousness and peace!
To be true witnesses of Jesus Christ, we have to understand what Christianity means. Then we will manifest His love, mercy and grace in our attitude toward others. As we talk about the goodness of God it will become evident that God has made us new creatures in Christ, and given us the Spirit. This is possible because He has given us His life! Knowing that we are His children takes away the deception that we are sinners, evil, natural and earthy. It enables us to live in the truth that we are spiritual children of God.
Although this earth is not our home, we would still like it to be as comfortable as possible. So we try to make changes to have it meet our standards. But the earthy can never become spiritual! The morality of the law does not make people spiritual. Jesus proclaimed the kingdom of God; He did not enter politics to change the Roman government. Just as He was not of this world, neither are we! Our part is to proclaim Christ Jesus - not to try to change this world through politics. The law is for the obstinate and rebellious. This veil of flesh is only temporary, for our home is with the Father in the Spirit.
Although there are many spiritual things, which we do not understand, we know the Author, and have faith in Him. The coming or the presence of Christ eliminates the presence of darkness, evil, error and death. Therefore, we want the Christ, the anointing that God has given us.
As we receive the teaching of the Spirit, we come into truth! The knowledge of truth eliminates error just as light dissipates darkness. The Holy Spirit gives us the assurance that we are children of God, so we can remain steadfast when we are persecuted by either the religious people or the world. We already have a house, a building of God, so we need not fear losing our temporal house - our physical body. The life we have in Christ does not die; it continues through the ages and into eternity!
I hope this will help you to understand what it means to be a Christian and to grow in spiritual understanding.
God bless you. Amen.