Are You a Real Christian or a Wannebee?

310702990_21eca830bb_mThere are many Christians who really don’t know if they’re saved or not. One of the biggest reasons for this is that they don’t study the Bible and have no idea who God really is or who Jesus is. They don’t understand grace and much of their limited knowledge of Him is lost in the Old Testament covenant, and this leaves them to wonder if they’re a real Christian or just a wannebee who hasn’t found God yet.

It’s really very easy to determine if you’re saved and it’s not because you own a copy of the Ten Commandments. There are only two prerequisites to being saved – the first is faith and the second is works.

 

Faith

In order to become a Christian [a follower of Christ] we need to believe that Jesus is the Son of God who came to earth to save us by taking our sins upon Himself on the cross and presenting us righteous through HIS blood to God, our Father. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” God gives us this measure of faith to come to Him with repentance, but this faith is only enough to bring us to the cross; it’s not enough to keep us there.

The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 5:7 that we must walk by faith and not by sight. We must no longer act and react according the world’s standards; we must always be ready to follow the Bible’s leadership and we must always be ready tell the world about Jesus no matter how much they’ll scorn us or laugh at us. We must never be ashamed of the Gospel, but in faith proclaim it to the world through the witness of how we live our lives.  And we do this because we have faith in God and not in the world.

More Faith

2818333115_cc4291236f_mWe need to believe that Jesus loves us! We need to accept the sacrifice He made for us on the cross. And we need to be committed to Him and that means studying the Bible and learning His instruction for our lives. 2 Timothy 2:15 says that we need to “study the Bible to show ourselves approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”  This is the only way to read the Bible and we must allow His Holy Spirit to teach us.

We CANNOT depend on our pastor or our minister or anyone else on the earth to teach us about God. We must study the Bible and let God teach us because then we won’t be deceived by false doctrines or man-made interpretations. If we want to be the very best we can be at our job, we would not depend on an unqualified colleague to teach us about our intricate career because that person may not understand half of it and isn’t qualified to teach us. Instead, we’d study and take courses and learn everything there was to know about that job from a qualified teacher so that we could know with confidence how to perform our job and how to act and react as a professional.

Works

When we first come to God there’s a heartfelt conviction that we bear as we realize that we are sinners doomed to God’s wrath, and that Jesus came to take away those sins. We repent and ask Him to take away the sin of the world and then we ask Jesus to come into our heart. John 1:29 says, “…Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.”

Unfortunately, that experience doesn’t always become conviction and it can have several consequences – some good and some bad. While some new Christians will really dig deep into the Bible to know God, others will just let it all slip away and may either have the “once saved, always saved” deception or they’ll just feel that they couldn’t make it as a Christian so they walk away. Jesus talks about this in Matthew 13:3-9:

“And He spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, 536162218_33648e157e_ma sower went forth to sow; And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up: Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth and forthwith they sprung up because they had no deepness of earth, and when the sun was up, they were scorched and because they had no root, they withered away. And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them: But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixty-fold, some thirty-fold. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.”

To better understand this parable, Jesus explains it to His disciples in Matthew 13:18-23: “Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower. When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side. But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended. He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful. But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.”

Even though all of these people received the initial faith to believe in Jesus in the first step, most of them did not retain it because they didn’t root themselves in God’s Word. They didn’t grow and instead, they lost what they had received. (Another great parable is about the talents found in Matthew 25:14-29) The ones who do take root are those who study the Bible, learn who God is and change their lives to be what God has set out for them through Jesus.

When we study the Bible, we adapt the fruits of the Spirit into our own lives and the Bible says that Christians are known by their fruits. We learn in Galatians 5:22-23 what these fruits are and our old habits will fall away as we take on these new characteristics of Jesus: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.”

When we first start out as Christians we have way more of the world in us than we have of Jesus in us, but that’s normal and all of these “bad fruits” will fall off a bit at a time as we study the Bible and take on the “good fruits”. The people of the world bear the opposite characteristics – or fruits – to those of Christ, so if our actions and reactions – especially our reactions – are still influenced by the world after we’ve been a Christian for a while, then we need to seriously look into our heart and see just who we are truly following.

As we grow in Christ, we continue to fill up with His love and this is the one virtue that can really tell us if we’re saved or not. What is the measure of love that we have in our heart? Do we really love Jesus or do we just think He’s wonderful and to be admired? Do we trust Jesus or do we just say that we do and then go to the world for help? Do we love the people around us even though they’re not Christians or do we spent every thought criticizing them for things they do and say? Do we love the people who come against us or do we have this secret ambition to get even when no one is looking? And do we love ourselves as a child of God or do we hate who we are, our appearance and our failures because of the disabilities in life that we endure?

Jesus gave us the new commandment about love in Mark 12:30 1382842_529674627123836_2075953538_nand this should be our mandate for life: “And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.” But He also gave us a second part to this comment (31), which is, “And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.”

So how can you know if you’re really saved or just a wannabee Christian? You need to search your own heart and dig for the truth inside it. Do you truly love Jesus as a real person who died on the cross for your sins? Do you spend time in the Word learning and growing and constantly changing from your old ways so you can be more like Him? Do you look forward to being in Heaven with Him forever? If your heart says yes, then you’re saved.  But if you don’t have a convicted love in your heart for Jesus, don’t read the Bible and don’t apply His instructions or promises to your life and don’t tell others about Him with enthusiasm and appreciation, then that is a really good clue that you’re not a Christian – just a wannabee Christian.

The good news? There’s still room at the cross so if you don’t know Jesus and want to know Him, come now and be saved.

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” … John 10:27

*If you would like a FREE copy of my book on faith, Let Faith Arise!, please go here and get yours today.

Let Faith Arise!

 

 

 

 

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When Faith and Trust Come Together

When we’re standing in faith and believing God for something, the one virtue we need is Trust!

As we go through life, we develop our relationship with the Lord and we build our faith in Him. But somehow, many of us face that one life and death situation where the world can’t give us the victory and we have to believe God for the answer – for the healing. There is no other way get the victory.

We get to that point where we have to ask, “Do I trust God with this?”

This is not an ususual or cruel question and it does not question our love for God or our hope in Him…but it cuts to the chase and tests our faith in Him. The world shouts out defeat and our lives hang in the balance….do we trust God to give us the victory? Do we have enough confidence in Him to heal us?

Trust is earned and God has mastered that virtue. He has made His intentions towards us very clear throughout the Bible and He has told us many, many times that His will for us is  to be healed. In both the New and Old Testaments there are powerful testimonies of people getting healed when they trusted the Lord. No one came to God for help where He ignored them or with an issue so great that He couldn’t heal them. Yes, there are people who didn’t love and trust Him who missed His healing, but to everyone who came to Him and trusted Him, God healed them!

Jesus healed the sick and raised the dead – and was Himself raised from the dead and He lives now and is ready to raise us up.

If we were ever going to trust God with our lives, it’s when He is the only way!

“O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusts in Him.”…Psalm 34:8

 “Commit your way unto the LORD; trust also in Him; and He shall bring it to pass.”…Psalm 37:5

 

How do you get faith?

“Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”(Hebrews 11:1) Simply put, it’s the energy of believing that a certain thing WILL come to pass.

For many of us, it’s easy to hope and wish for something to happen, and we get this feeling inside that it will happen – this is the faith working in us. But faith has an enemy so great and so loud that it often defeats faith and we don’t get the thing we hoped for.

Doubt is the one enemy that will destroy faith and it’s fuelled by the physical evidence around us. What we see may be very different and even opposite to what we’re believing for. This physical evidence tells our senses that our faith isn’t working, that it’s not for us and that it’s not going to happen. So we give up and surrender to the circumstance. Doubt wins and faith is defeated.

So how do we prevent doubt from setting in? By following three steps to building faith.

The first one is believing that the Bible is true, and that what God says is true. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. (Romans 10:17) We must read the Bible so that we can learn who God is and what His will is for us. We must study the Bible so that we don’t take portions of scripture out of context but rather, receive it as God intended. And we must get it deep into our hearts so that we accept it as God’s spoken Word for us and so that we have no doubt about His intentions.

The second step is that we must know that what we want is what God wants for us, and then we have the right to believe that we should have it. God says that He wants us to be in good health and that by His stripes we ARE healed, so we have the right to take God at his Word and believe Him for healing – in spite of what the evidence before us says, and in spite of what the medical report says.

The third one is living in accordance with God’s Word. We may be saved but if we do things or live in a way that God tells us not to such as living a riotous life, indulging in excessive drinking or eating foods that are unhealthy – things that God warns us against – then we must stop and get back into God’s will for our lives. And then we will have regained the right to claim the promises of God and our faith will grow and we’ll see victory in our lives. 

Faith in God’s Word is the key to a victorious life!

“And He said unto her, Daughter, be of good comfort; your faith has made you whole. Go in peace.” Luke 8:48

Living by the book…

The world we live in often has us pegged from day one with a plan for our lives.

The educational system is set up so that the “average” child’s life is plotted out for each grade, for when to finish high school and when to graduate from college.  As they progress in life, there’s the assumed age to get married, to buy a home, to have this much money in savings and that much stashed up in pension, not to mention having purchased a buriel plot. 

Studies of the human body set the mind to believing that physical and mental abilities are strongest when we’re young and slow down as we gracefully pass 40. By the time we’re 50 many of us are wondering how we missed the secular mark, and when we hit 60 we realize that we’re heading into old age and there is a lot we can no longer accomplish.

But this is the world’s summary of the average person’s life – it is not God’s plan for your life!

God tells us to raise a child in the way of the Lord and they’ll have His instruction in their hearts forever. He tells us to renew our minds constantly in the Word because the Word gives us life and instruction on how to live life abundantly. He teaches us from the beginning how to eat healthy and that we’re not to smoke cigarettes or take drugs, that we should exercise our mind and our body, and that we should avoid the sins of the world so that we can keep ourselves healthy, clean and presentable before God.

He teaches us the fruits of the spirit so that we can have His attributes and be all that we can be.

Nowhere in the Bible does God put limitations on our lives. He gives us warnings that if we do this we will inevitably reap the rewards of it, but He does not say that you will become old because you turned 60.

Life is what you want it to be. Follow God, heed to His instructions, love others with the same heartfelt compassion that He does, and above all else, never say “can’t”.

“Can’t” is admitting doubt and defeat, but the Lord tells us to have faith – faith in Him, faith that He can and faith that He will.  God says repeatedly throughout the Bible that He wants us to live life to the fullest, to enjoy the things He’s created for us and to be happy with each other. And when “things” get in the way and try to stop this from happening, we must rise up in faith and speak against them, talk to God about them and believe that He can and that He will do what He said He will do.

Our bodies may slow down as we age, but we should never accept the worldly plan for the steps along the way. We are as old – or as young – as we elect to be.  And if we read our Bible and praise God every day for His goodness and His mercies, and ask for His help and trust Him for the answer, we will live life to the fullest and enjoy what God has given us.

One of the people who carried the torch during the 2010 Olympics was 81-year old Barbara Ann Scott. She carried that torch high and went the short distance! Age had no limitations on what she could do – and it should have no limitations on you!

“Beloved, I wish above all things that you may prosper and be in health, even as your soul prospers.” ….3 John 1:2

All things work together….

When things go wrong in our lives we sometimes think that God isn’t watching over us like we thought He would. We get restless and upset because we believe that our needs should be met today, that the bad things in our lives should be made right the second we pray about them. And then when they’re not answered, we question God and His desire to help us.

God’s timing is not like our timing. Sometimes situations can be best fixed through a series of actions so that everyone’s blessed, so that the reason for the problem in the first place can be justified or so that a heart could cry out to God and mean it.  We should pray and give our burdens to God and then thank Him over and over for the answer that will come.

God is not deaf nor is He forgetful. If you prayed from your heart, He heard you the first time so don’t whine at Him as if He didn’t hear. Instead, thank Him for His Word that He gave us as a reminder of who He is and what He will do for us. Thank Him for hearing you and thank Him for answering you. And then wait expectantly for the answer.

It might not be what you think because God’s ways are not the same as our ways. He sees the whole picture and when you are part of that picture, you have to believe that the answer will be exactly the right one – even if it takes longer in coming than you planned and even if it’s not the one you thought of.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not unto your own understanding.”…Proverbs 3:5

   

Why Did He take so long?

Often we’ll pray about something and wait for God to answer. Nothing happens so we pray again – and again. Sometimes we feel as if He isn’t listening or that our problem isn’t important enough for Him.

The truth is, God heard our words the first time. But He responds to our hearts and not to the words we speak.

Sometimes we ask God because it’s the right thing to do – but do we mean any of the words we’re saying?

Sometimes, we ask Him because we know God answers and we’ve read His Word and know that He hears us, but do we actually trust Him to answer?

The problem is not that God doesn’t hear us because we know that HIs Word is always true – the same yesterday, today and forever. So when we don’t get answers to our prayers, maybe it’s because our heart is really not in it as much as our words are.

At the voice of thy cry, when He shall hear it, He will answer thee.”            ……………..Isaiah 30:19

When God hears the cry from our heart and not from our lips, that’s when He answers because that’s when we are truly seeking Him.