Sunday, June 11, 2006

The Ties That Bind All True Christians

I found a post that contained a statement attributed to Gandhi* at another blog and was compelled to share it here.

"I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ."


At first glance it is a most sobering condemnation against those of the Christian faith. Granted. Christians make mistakes while trying to witness to others. Jesus chose his followers, imperfect beings that we are, to be his representatives here on earth. We are to spread the Gospel message throughout the world.

We have a whole range of evangelists. A preacher like Billy Graham who has been an awesome representative for Christ and we have other preachers who may be hurting our cause. But God works all things together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. The reason Billy Graham is loved by millions and rarely, if ever, condemned for his preaching is because he focuses on Jesus Christ and the Gospel message.

This, then, makes me wonder. Should Gandhi have been judging his personal decision regarding Jesus Christ only upon Christ's followers (whom he disliked and condemned) or should he have made the judgment strictly upon Jesus Christ and who He is as revealed in the Scriptures?

Another popular argument of non-Christians is their claim that because there are so many denominations that conflict with each other, how is one to find the truth?

There are certain facts that tie and bind all true Christians.

1. The first one is the fact that we have been born again in Christ. In order to be born again in Christ, we confess and repent of our sins and invite Jesus into our lives to guide us into all truth. The indwelling of the Holy Spirit reminds us of what Jesus taught and refers us to the Scriptures.

2. The second fact is that we teach Jesus Christ and Him crucified.

When the movie "The Passion of the Christ" came out, there were many different denominations in agreement on most aspects of that movie. You could name any Protestant, Evangelical, Lutheran, Roman Catholic,(can include many others too) branch of Christianity here and it is the one thing that they all agree upon.

Why is that?

Because at Pentecost, Jesus sent the Helper, that is, the Holy Spirit. He guides Christians into all truth. The side issues and traditions that may divide the denominations fall away.

It all comes down to this: the Gospel message is the uniter of all true Christians.

We must beware the "crossless Gospel." [Note: also posted below] Those "churches" who do not teach the need for repentance for sin are guilty of heresy. Yes. There are some sects/cults that are "severed branches," if you will. We are told in the book of Jude to avoid them because they lead people into heresy and apostasy. This is why you must be diligent and read the Scriptures so you can "rightly divide the Word of Truth!" If you are attending a church that teaches "the crossless Gospel," run! Find another church immediately!

I have met many born-again, Bible believing Christians via message boards and blogs. Genuine Christians whom I have never met personally, are in full agreement with the main message of the Scriptures. You see, there is a difference between those who would use exegesis, hermeneutics and Sola Scripture (which are tools to extract the original meaning of the writers) vs. those who use "esogesis," (which means determining their own interpretations) of what Scripture is saying.

We see "esogesis" being utilized very vividly in the homosexual behavior affirming churches. The only people who have been caught up in the sin of homosexuality (or any other sin, for that matter) and will make it into heaven with God are the repentant ones.

Even repentant murderers who confess and are born again after their crime and accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior avoid hell and will live for eternity in heaven with God.

In man's eyes, that may not seem "fair." But God's thoughts are not man's thoughts. "While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." God affords grace and mercy to those who look upon Jesus Christ and his sacrificial death as the only substitutionary propitiation which is acceptable to God the Father for the forgiveness of their sins.

People who know Jesus and become children of God will avoid the penalty of death (the second eternity away from God in hell).

The unsaved who refuse the quickening of the Holy Spirit, (who is urging them from outside their souls to make that decision for Christ) will die with their own sins on their souls. That is the choice for all of mankind. We either agree with God that we are sinners who are desperately in need of the Savior, Jesus Christ, or we die in our sins and remain reprobate and separated from the God who is trying to save us...forever.

Eternity is a long....time.

Dear reader, what is your decision?

I pray that you change your heart towards God, If you are currently of the mindset that leads you to "hate Christians," I plead with you not to let Satan use your obvious dislike and hatred for many Christian believers as an excuse to reject Jesus. Knowingly or unknowingly, Satan is influencing you to focus on the behavior of other Christians and not on Whom you should be focusing on...Jesus Christ. Jesus was the only Perfect Man who ever lived. You won't find perfection in anyone else...including Christian believers.

Once born again, a Christian does not have his/her free will taken away. We still live in a fallen world and have that fallen nature. The huge difference is, he/she has the added influence of the Holy Spirit indwelled in the soul to guide us into all truth. Our love for Jesus compels us to live righteously for Him because He alone is Holy. If you would focus on what is being shared about Christ, and not judge the person who is sharing it, then you will not let a Christian's imperfect nature affect you so negatively.

My daughter gave me a license plate frame for my car which poignantly reads: "Christians are not perfect; just forgiven by a God who is.


The following post was from my previous message board:

Beware the Cross-less Gospel

by Roger Chilvers (part one of a two-part series)

I watched a television program that featured interviews with a number of people at a well-known evangelical church. One person after the another gave testimony about how their lives had been changed: "I came to this church and was thrilled about what I saw. God changed my life." Someone else said, "I was a drug addict, and God dealt with that." Every testimony mentioned God, but in that whole program Jesus was mentioned only once. What Christ did on the cross was not mentioned at all.

In preaching today, generally speaking, the cross hardly features - sometimes Jesus doesn't even feature. We have a duty to make the cross of Christ central in our evangelism. The Bible says that the cross is a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles (1 Corinthians 1:23). The Jews thought, "How could anyone preach about the Messiah DYING ON A CROSS? Don't the Scriptures say that anyone who dies on a cross is cursed by God?" As for Gentiles - who didn't have or care about the Old Testament Scriptures - the whole idea was complete foolishness. The verse uses the Greek word moros, from which we get "moron." You have to be a moron to preach and believe in a dying Savior. Can you see the temptation to put the cross off to the side?

Sometimes you hear people say, quite rightly, "Jesus will give you a purpose for living." Without a doubt he does, but that is not why He came. Others say that He came as a good example to follow. He is the greatest example to follow, but again, that is not at the heart of why He came, "Jesus came to give us joy in a world of unhappiness and misery," some say. But that was not why He came either. And great though His peace is, He didn't come to give us peace.

John tells us why Jesus came: "He appeared so that he might take away our sins" (1 John 3:5, NIV). We need reminding of this. Otherwise, in our evangelism we may say, "Have some peace, have some joy, have some happiness, have a purpose for living, have an example to follow." Although Jesus does give these things, they are not the central point. We may find these things apart from Jesus, but apart from Him we will never find forgiveness of sins.

We can understand the centrality of the cross from three different perspectives: What does it mean to God? to us? to Satan?


The Bible says, "We have an advocate with the Father; Jesus Christ the righteous: and he is the propitiation for our sins" (1 John 2:1-2, KJV). Propitiation is the means by which God's anger is assuaged; His anger is dealt with, and God is made favorable toward us.

Some have said it is barbaric to think that God's anger needs to be assuaged by blood. They say, "How can a sacrifice that makes an angry God favorable be given by the God who is angry in the first place? And what about God's love?"

But it is precisely because God loves us that He had to deal with our sin - and it is on the basis of this that we are accepted. Jesus could die a thousand deaths and yet not achieve salvation for us unless God were satisfied with the sacrifice. Yet the question remains: How can God be both the One who provides the sacrifice that makes Him propitious and be the One who receives the sacrifice?

The simple answer is that God's holiness demands propitiation.

God is blisteringly angry about our every single sin. You can see the awfulness of sin only by seeing what it did to His one and only lovely Son. If God looked at a sin and said, "Well, I'm not too bothered about that one," there would be injustice in His character. God retains His honor by giving His Son.

God unfolded a plan that both showed His unbelievably strong anger at sin and His infinitely strong love for us. He sent His Son and punished Him on our behalf. "The Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world" (1 John 4:14, NIV). No other message beside the cross is able to deal with the root problem of man's sin in relation to the justice and holiness of God.


The heart of the Gospel is that through Jesus - and His work as our Substitute - God did for us what we could never do for ourselves. The punishment for our sin was dealt with by a substitute: Namely, Jesus. The Bible says, "When we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly" (Romans 5:6, NIV). The Greek word translated "for" means "on behalf of." The word is used repeatedly concerning Jesus: "While we were still sinners Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8, NIV).

In our evangelism it is so important that we grasp this because it tells us that when Jesus died on the cross He died on behalf of someone. There is no greater news than the glorious news that Jesus took our place on the cross. We are sinners by nature, but "God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God" (2 Corinthians 5:21, NIV). What a breathtaking verse!


The Bible calls Satan "the accuser" in Revelation 12:10. He whispers, "You cannot possible expect God to accept you. You have a disgusting imagination. Look at those things you've done - your deceitfulness, your hatred and bitterness. You call yourself a child of God? " And to God, Satan says, in effect, "If You are just at all, You cannot possibly forgive his/her sins and accept him/her. Your justice demands that he/she be punished."

But John tells us how such accusations are dealt with: "If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous" (1 John 2:1, KJV). Generally, an advocate will stand up before a judge and plead on behalf of the accused something like this, "My lord, yes, he is not perfect - he has failed- but he is now a kind and helpful citizen, and I am bringing witnesses to testify to his good character." In so doing, the advocate pleads for the judge to be lenient.

Jesus, as our Advocate, doesn't work that way. When Satan accuses, Jesus says to His Father, "Everything You said about him is true. He is wicked; he is sinful. There is not one good thing about him. But, Father, You cannot punish him because the punishment already has been paid - by Me."

The Father looks to the sacrifice of the Son to see that the punishment was paid in full. Atonement made, acceptance guaranteed - and we are free. This is what is meant by Jesus being our Substitute.

"Because the sinless Savior died,
My sinful soul is counted free,
For God, the Just, is satisfied,
To look on Him and pardon me." **

Jesus provided for our greatest need - the forgiveness of sin. Apart from Him it could never happen. That is why the cross must be at the heart of our evangelism.

* It was brought to my attention that I had misspelled the name of "Gandhi" in this post. I have since corrected that error. No disrespect was intended in my error.

* From "Before the Throne of God Above," by Charitie Lee Bancroft

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