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The Persecuted Church

 

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When Someone Claims to be a Christian but...is Not a Christian

Much discussion takes place among the various churches of different persuasions on what makes someone a believer in Jesus Christ. The fact is, what you believe will shape your life. This is especially true in spiritual matters.

Does someone only need to confess Jesus as their savior to be a Christian or is there more to what they confess and live by?

Certainly one can’t say they are a Christian if they don’t hold to the distinctive doctrines that make one a Christian. There are certain requirements in any religious group that one must adhere to so that they are accepted as part of that religious persuasion. Hinduism, Buddhism, Mormonism, and the various cults all have their own particulars of what one is to believe and do to be called of that “faith, church or religion. Anyone will tell you if you don’t hold to the basic fundamentals of a certain religion then you are not considered part of it. The fundamentals are what makes one acceptable and in the body of Christ.

So what is the Christian distinctive? This is what makes this difference between someone holding to the historic Christian faith, upholding orthodoxy or being part of an aberrant, cultic group or church. Unfortunately many in orthodox churches do not know what they actually believe nor can they share it with others. this is why it is so important to teach and re-teach the basics to all.

The essentials of Christianity come from the Bible. Every essential doctrine is found in Scripture. They are not found by an individuals revelation or tradition. They concentrate on God - His nature and His dealing with mankind in relation to our salvation. How one is saved and forgiven of their sins and brought into a relationship with God.

Being a Christian cannot be reduced to one being loving and kind. Because many people in different religions are this way. Nor can it be reduced to someone that only believes in Jesus. There is much more. The core teachings (called the essentials) are what a Christian believes and he lives by what he believes in.

You can adhere to Christian values and principles and still not be a Christian. That’s right you read it right; you can live by the Bible and never experience the new birth. Your quality of life will improve because you are applying biblical principles to every day living, however Jesus said the new birth is first and foremost mandatory for one to enter the kingdom of God; without it you will not be going to heaven after you die nor be in the kingdom when He comes back (Jn.3). This is why Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons can have a moral lifestyle and feel they have the truth. It is just enough truth to change their lifestyle and have an inclination to learn of the Lord but not enough to be in a relationship. Any group that denies the new birth becomes a cult despite their adhering to some or nearly all Bible doctrine.

Every religion has their fundamentals, what we would call doctrine. Doctrine does matter; it is the subject matter of what one believes. There are numerous doctrines all contained within the Bible that are essential to our faith. Some keep them very basic to a few essentials, such as, there is one God who is uncreated and brought into existence all things, which disallows evolution. Jesus is God - he died and rose again physically from the dead-salvation is by grace through faith. Others see more than just three or even five points. The core doctrines are not representative of any particular denomination, they are doctrines shared by those of the faith delivered to all the saints in all Christian denominations. They are taught as basic teachings to the Church from the Scripture.

We can break down the major doctrines to several basic fundamentals. One way we can identify what a core doctrine is by its necessity. Is it necessary for our salvation; making a distinction of our relationship to be sustained, or for being fruitful? Another is on the nature of who God is - His attributes, which will define how he interacts with mankind. Is it necessary to know certain things that will clear any confusion. From the main core of teachings there are sub-doctrines attached to the core teachings (like branches off the main trunk). These numerous sub-doctrines are attached to the core and are just as important. An example of this: Jesus is God, but to be God and man He needed a virgin birth. Two of the Gospels address this in their beginning. John’s gospel goes back even further, to his pre-existence as God. Christology is the study of the Son. The virgin conception was the means of the incarnation, through which God became a man. The point being, that without his being born into the world as a sinless man through a virgin conception, He could not be God, nor live a sinless life as man. Around this core doctrine come other essential doctrines that are more specific on the person of Jesus. The Hypostatic union, which is about the dual nature of Christ, his being both 100% God and 100%; man dwelling together as one person (Jn.1:14,18; Phil.2:6-8; Isa.9:6; Heb.4; Col.2:9). It matters who you believe in, as much as what this “who” did. If you do not have Jesus as deity or called upon this Jesus to save you from your sins, you are not saved. The Bible puts this in the category of believing on another Jesus. This is the biblical teaching from Jesus and the apostles. Jesus said to them, “You are from beneath; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world.” “Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am (ego eimi), you will die in your sins”(John 8:23-24). This would exclude him from being an angel, a creature created by God.

The CORE Teachings

The core doctrines are required for us to believe in to be a Christian. They make us part of the body of Christ and keep us in unity. All Christians hold to these same teachings, regardless of what denomination or non-denominational church they attend. So what are the core teachings? These doctrines include the following: That there is one God who is uncreated and brought into existence all things, which disallows evolution in any form be it secular or variations of progressive creation (God using evolution as a means to create).

Jesus Christ is the eternal God, being both God and man, lived a sinless life. The Trinity -- God who is triune in his nature, three distinct eternal persons who always exist simultaneously as the one God. So God is one being, yet three in persons. There is only one God and all others are false. All mankind needs a savior; because of the sinfulness of man God initiated His love by sending His Son to become man. The death of Christ on the cross for the sins of mankind being God’s only means for salvation; dying once for all. This means for the Old Testament saint looked forward to the one sacrifice that would take away sin forever. The New Testament saint he looks back on the cross in the past looking forward to Christ appearing a second time apart from his sacrifice (Heb.9:27-28). The resurrection, that Christ was raised physically in the same body and glorified having an eternal body, not raised a spirit. The new birth is given through the good news of the Gospel (Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection) by grace through faith alone in Christ alone. Salvation in the work of Christ alone, our being saved by grace through faith alone, the believer having the power of the Holy Spirit in them to conform them to the image of the Son of God and to live a Spirit filled life. The divine inspiration of Scripture: the assurance of the Bible (66 books) being infallible and inerrant as the Word of God having the power of God. The Eternal Priesthood of Christ as our only mediator between God and man and the priesthood of all believers. The Church universal, invisible, and the local church being visible is our spiritual home of fellowship on earth. The rapture of the Church to be in heaven where he has prepared a place for. The second coming as the bodily return of Jesus Christ to earth to first judge (Mt.25) and then rule and reign. The awaiting judgment for the unbeliever and rewards for what we as believers have done with our talents and gifts. Heaven and hell are all part of the fundamentals. Heaven promised to all who believe as a gift because of our believing and following Christ. Hell to those who disbelieve and rejected his message of love to them as an individual. We can’t compromise on these. These essentials are set forth clearly in the Scripture, just as those on the nature of God and Christ, man and salvation. All these doctrines are based on the divine inspiration of Scripture. John 7:16 Jesus answered them and said, “My doctrine is not Mine, but His who sent Me.” To reject what Jesus said is to reject the one who sent him to speak it. Jesus answered, “It is written: `Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”’ (Mt. 4:4,7,10 )

All Christians are to hold to these teachings, regardless of what denomination or non-denominational church they attend. “Whosoever ... abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, HATH NOT GOD. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son” (2 John 1:9). For this reason Paul wrote to Timothy as a pastor to “Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you” (1 Timothy 4:16). “That you may charge some that they teach no other doctrine” (1 Timothy 1:3).

The cults will all deny or distort one or all of these major doctrines.

Along with these main core doctrines there are many sub-doctrines that have been and are still being discussed and many Christians have various points of view. Eschatology; the timing of the rapture; spiritual gifts, how God predestines, etc. all these are discussed. As the writer of Hebrews states (6:1-3)

“Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. And this we will do if God permits.” The Writer of Hebrews recognizes the difference between some of the foundational principles and those that are not, ie. Repentance; faith; the different baptisms (water- Spirit); laying on of hands (to approve and release one in ministry); the resurrection of all who died and the judgment. For the New Testament saint he looks back on the cross in the past looking forward to Christ appearing a second time apart from his sacrifice (Heb.9:27-28)

But one cannot be a Christian without agreeing with the main tenets of the faith. By these we endeavour to maintain the unity of the Spirit given to us; it is the doctrine of Christ given by the apostles that unites us all. This is the work of the Spirit. This is where we find our unity and where the true church resides.

Infallibility and Inerrancy of Scripture

Without the infallibility and inerrancy of scripture, we could not know who Jesus is or what He has done. The Bible being the word of God- Infallible signifies the quality of neither misleading nor being misled and so safeguards in categorical terms the truth that Holy Scripture is a sure, safe, and reliable rule and guide in all matters. Similarly, inerrant signifies the quality of being free from all falsehood or mistakes that safeguards the truth of Holy Scripture being entirely true and trustworthy in all its claims.

God moved upon holy men who walked with him and obeyed him, they wrote the Scripture that is delivered to us today. The Lord made certain that His revelation about Himself was recorded without error in the original documents. Scripture alone is said to be “God-breathed” (Theopnuestos) thus by it believers are competent. The same thing the church was taught by the apostles is written down for us today. Thus we can be Equipped “for every, good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:20-21). John 14:26 Jesus taught that the Holy Spirit would provide an accurate recall for the apostles as they penned the words of Scripture. He would also help us remember what is written as well. The doctrine of Sola Scriptura is not a Protestant teaching but a Bible teaching. Paul says in 1 Cor.4:6: “Do not exceed what is written,” rejecting those who would come later with statements that are not written. The Bible is sufficient without the aid of tradition and Scripture alone is our source in all matters of faith and morals. The Bible does not contain the word of God it is the Word of God, and the Church is to proclaim the Scripture being the pillar and ground of truth. The degree of inspiration is that 'All' the Scripture is the product of God's 'out-breathing'; this means the whole of the Old Testament and the New Testament are equally inspired through his Spirit though we live in the New Testament as our covenantal relationship with God. Rom. 15:4 equates the word of God as scripture before in the Old Testament and then in the New Testament. Scripture is our authority and when one disregards or changes it this proves they are not submitted to Christ; nor a believer. You cannot be a true believer and follow without holding to the Scripture as being infallible and inerrant.

Illumination is the ministry of the Holy Spirit to believers teaching them all things from the closed canon of Scripture (1 John 2:27) through study (hermeneutics, devotion) and meditation. A believer is to be equipped by the word for the purpose of glorifying God in our lives. The Spirit also uses those who have various gifts for teaching to carry out this ministry in the Church. (Psalm 119:99; John 16:12-15; Romans 12:7; 1 Corinthians 2:9-3:3; 2 Timothy 2:15).

Jesus promised the disciples in jn.14:26 the Holy Spirit who would give them accuracy in recalling his words as they penned it on paper. Even Paul recognized what he was writing was the Lords commandments (1 Cor.14:37). That his words were taught by the Spirit. 1 Cor 2:13. In 1 Thess. 2:13 he commends them for their accepting his words not as mans but as the word of God. John also recognized his teaching came from God and to reject it meant to reject God. In 1 Jn.4:6. 1 Jn.1:1 he states they were all eyewitnesses. Peter claims to be an eyewitness and not making up stories. In 1 Pt.1:16-21 He also states Paul’s writings are Scripture as he was alive in 2 Pt.3:15-16.

Doctrine is the teachings of Scripture inspired by God.1 Tim.4:13-16; 2 Tim.3:16. All doctrine is important but not all doctrine is equal. Paul labored to preach the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27). The reason churches get off balance and narrow their ministry to a certain doctrine is because they neglect to teach all of the word day in and day out. How do we determine if something an essential? Is it is repeated and practiced in the book of Acts; is it taught to and practiced by the church in the epistles. Certain teachings need to be the foundation to build on for a new believer to have correct growth. Without it they will grow crooked and will be dulled later in their walk. So it is of the utmost importance to lay the right foundation and build on it with the essentials of the faith to be productive as the years go by. Imagine laying a foundation that is only slightly crooked, by the second floor it may not be noticed but by the tenth or twentieth it certainly will.

Doctrines are not sideways only but 3D. (A tree has a trunk and branches go out all around the tree) all doctrine has to do with God, His nature and His work with mankind. We are encouraged to study doctrine and the teachings. If the core teachings are not settled by those who teach or upheld by them, they are teaching incorrectly and if approached and they do not repent and correct their teaching they can be categorized as a false teacher and should be made known to all. “If anyone teaches otherwise and does not consent to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which accords with godliness, he is proud, knowing nothing, but is obsessed with disputes and arguments over words, from which come envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions” (1 Timothy 6:3-4). People who twist doctrines and change the meanings are not God’s anointed teachers; they are empowered with pride not wanting to submit them-selves to what the word actually says.

Christian doctrine also explains the nature of man and what makes Jesus Christ different from other men? The factor of SIN. Christianity teaches all men are BORN sinners. This is called the sin nature that all mankind has inherited from Adam meaning we are naturally attracted and inclined to do what is wrong and even evil in God’s eyes. Sin is sin whether one does it intentionally or not. Sin is when someone is defied, offended, or hurt. This can pertain to people or God although all sin is offending God since he is the standard by either His word, law or person. Sin means we break the standard, disobeying anything He commands.

Gal. 3:22 “But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe” (by the law). Paul further writes whatever is not done in faith is sin.

The Sinfulness of man and our need for salvation are essential to being a Christian. This means NO ONE is born a Christian. Like in other religions people are born into the faith of the family. To become a Christian one must make a conscious decision using faith to follow Christ. You are reborn spiritually. If you do not believe you were sinful (or that you still are) you are denying the very fact for having a savior. Then there is no need for Jesus’ sacrifice being applied to you. One must believe they are sinful to have Jesus as their savior for their sin.

The Blood of Christ
The importance of the blood of Jesus cannot be underestimated. It becomes our covenant with God. The New Covenant is based upon the shed blood of Jesus on the cross. Not before in Gethsemane nor after the atonement was finished in the ninth hour. At the Last Supper, which was the same Passover the Jews had celebrated for almost 1500 years Jesus told His disciples, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you”(Lk 22:20). Our very salvation depends on the purity of the blood of Jesus because the perfect blood sacrifice offered to the Father had to be sinless. No other man or woman's blood could suffice. Why? Because we all are sons of Adam sharing his sinful blood flowing through our veins. That's why it is absolutely vital that Jesus is conceived supernaturally by the Holy Spirit and not by man. If Jesus were not born of a virgin, apart from any man His blood could not have provided the sinless sacrifice. With no perfect sacrifice, we human beings are still under the sin of Adam and there is no salvation!

God, by the Holy Spirit, caused Mary to conceive making the Son of man sinless, no sin of Adam that all humanity shares in was passed on to him. For the first time since the creation of Adam a sinless seed formed the blood that flowed through the veins of a man, the God-man Jesus. Bypassing the human condition caused Jesus' blood to be holy and sinless.

Jesus came ultimately to free humankind from the curse put on it by the sin of Adam. The wages of sin is death (Rom 6:23). In order to free humans from that death, Jesus had to be pure at birth, and to maintain that purity all during His lifetime. He had to lead a perfect sinless life living under the law of God while here on earth to be qualified as the savior. He was the only Jew to live the law perfectly. Had Jesus ever committed a sin, (by breaking God’s word) He would have failed in His mission and been disqualified as our Savior. But it was not his perfect sinless life that saves us. It was His death on the cross, He was the perfect and complete sinless sacrifice needed to defeat death! Scripture tells us: “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are--yet was without sin” (Heb. 4:15).

The law in the Scripture says “Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness [of sin]” (Heb 9:22). The spiritual principle is - A man (Adam) had caused this separation therefore a Man must correct it. Paul put it this way, “The first man Adam became a living being,” the last Adam [Jesus], a life-giving spirit.” (1 Cor. 15:45) Jesus did this by his resurrection and giving new life to all who believe on him.

We are corporately either in Adam or in Christ. Adam caused himself and all men after him to be separated from God because of his sin. When Adam sinned he entered into a sinful, corrupted state. Since all of mankind flows from Adam, all men are inescapably sinful (Rom. 3:23). God recognizes only two sons, two groups of people, Adam and Jesus (the last Adam) -- those who are unsaved, both Jews and Gentiles and those who are saved, both Jews and Gentiles. Those of us who are born again are in Christ by his Holy Spirit (God adopts those of us who are born again as His sons and daughters) and those who are not (are condemned under Adam’s headship).

Salvation

The new birth (spiritual birth) is given through the good news - the Gospel (Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection) by grace through faith alone in Christ alone. God has given us a certain way, through His only Son and by the crucifixion. (1 Cor. 1:18, 21, 25)

It is by God’s grace we are saved through faith, this is fundamental to the Gospel and how God works through the new covenant. “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” (Eph. 2:8-9).

This occurs by placing our faith in Christ's sacrifice, and subsequent resurrection. That Christ was raised physically in the same body and glorified. This is what is called the gospel. Paul calls anything that is subtracted from it or added and changed another gospel. Such as when he spoke to Galatians for adding parts of the Old Testament law. Gal. 1:6 “I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel.” So it is a gospel that operates by grace.

The very scripture upon which we rely on for the gospel (1 Cor 15:1-4) contains the necessary phrase “according to the scriptures.” This would include all that the scriptures have to say relating to Jesus and the gospel. As Jesus pointed to the Scripture constantly for the fulfillment of what he did.

The gospel that Paul delivered and we stand in is explained in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4. It is centered on Christ dying for our sin and rising again. When one accepts the conditions of the gospel to believe on Jesus, (as Lord -Yahweh) and repents, (admitting their sinful condition willing to change their life by following him) they receive the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13). We then abide in our salvation by trusting in His completed work on the cross. As Paul says “in which we stand” (1 Cor.15:1-4)

The Gospel is the center point of God and man being reconciled to have fellowship. In the gospel presentation we need to explain who Christ is and why he came. I believe this is a serious matter that is often neglected. Let me explain why. The virgin birth, deity of Christ, etc., not being mentioned every time the gospel is briefly summarized in Scripture does not mean that they are not essential elements for those who want to be saved must believe. Every detail need not be specifically mentioned, because each would be understood having been stated elsewhere.
Paul's declaration in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 is a summary of the gospel content he delivered to the church. If we are to preach Christ accurately it means more than merely saying to someone to call on Jesus Christ who died in your place, and rose again without explaining who He is! How can we ask someone to believe in Jesus without explaining fully who the biblical Jesus is?

More than one doctrine is connected to salvation. The primary one is that Christ is God in the flesh, Jesus said the Church would be built upon Peter’s confession “thou are the Christ the Son of the living God.” How can we call upon him who became man unless we are told whom we are calling on?

Jesus is the proper object of faith. It is not simply enough to have faith. Faith is only as valid as what it is put in. You must put your faith in the proper object. Cults have false objects of faith; therefore, their faith is useless--no matter how sincere they are.

If you put your faith in a being that is an Angel or a Jesus that is not God, then you will be in a lot of trouble on the day of judgment. You might have great faith, but so what. It is in something that can't save you.

The Gospel- Resurrection of Christ

1 Cor. 15:1-4 defines what the gospel is: “Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.”

“And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith” (1 Cor. 15:14). “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins” (1 Cor. 5:17). These verses clearly state that if you say that Jesus did not rise from the dead (in the same body He died in (John 2:19-21; Jn.20; Lk.24:39), then your faith is useless.

To deny the physical resurrection is to deny Jesus' sacrifice, resurrection and even our resurrection. For Scripture says 1 John 3:2-3 “When He is revealed we shall be like Him for we shall see Him as He is).

Salvation by Grace through Faith

Here we come to the most important part of the essentials. This divides the Church who is the pillar and ground of truth with the cults who teach a portion of the truth and distort or remove the essentials.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith -- and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God -- not by works, so that no one can boast” (Eph. 2:8-9).

Once we understand whom we are saved by we cannot claim any credit in anything we have ever done to have earned or deserved it.

You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace” (Gal. 5:4). Works were connected to obedience by the law. In the teaching of grace we work because we have been saved, not to be saved. This will either sever you or connect you to a relationship with the Lord.

Plainly this verse in context teaches that if you believe that you are saved by faith through or with works then you are not saved at all. This is the common error in the cults on salvation as well as world religions. Because they have a false Jesus, they have a false doctrine of salvation one error leads to another (Romans chapters 3-5 and Galatians chapters 3-5). This is why there is only one way - it is by the person and work of Jesus Christ, by grace through faith we are entering this work for us.

Again, we are required to do certain things once we have put our faith in Christ, but not for salvation, because He has already saved us. By obedience we prove the fruits of salvation we possess. Rom. 11:6 “And if by grace, then it is no longer of works; otherwise grace is no longer grace. But if it is of works, it is no longer grace; otherwise work is no longer work.”

A work would be anything you do physical, be it a ritual commandment or good deed. Faith is not a physical work. As Eph.2 says, not of yourselves not by any physical work even of obedience, this would include baptism.

Titus 3:5 says, “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us through the washing of regeneration, and the renewing of the Holy Spirit” (1 Pet. 1:3). This is Jn.3:3-5 , the born again experience.

God saves a person based on their faith in response to the gospel message, they are justified by God by faith (Rom. 3:24, 28). “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 5:1)

“Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin” (Rom. 3:20).

“However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness” (Rom. 4:5).

Is the law, therefore, opposed to the promises of God? Absolutely not! For if a law had been given that could impart life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the law” (Gal. 3:21).Here Paul makes a distinction between what the law required and what faith has done, this area of Scripture needs to be read in its full context.

Justification- a legal declaration giving one right standing before God pronouncing a sinner righteous because of Christ’s merit, (not making them righteous) Rom.5:1,18 Isa.53:11 Rom.4:5

We are not making true converts if we do not clearly preach the correct gospel according to the scriptures. This is a serious matter, because “the gospel...is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believes” (Rom 1:16). This means that if someone believes something less than, or more than, or contrary to the gospel Paul has preached to the Church he is not saved and is promoting a different gospel.

The Giving of the Holy Spirit to the Believer

Eph. 1:13-14 “And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession--to the praise of his glory.”
2 Cor. 2:21-22 Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

We hear the word- the gospel- faith is exercised as the truth is received and the Holy Spirit is dispensed. It coincides together

We all enter in the same way to become part of the church universal “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body-- whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free-- and have all been made to drink into one Spirit” (1 Cor. 12:13).

This baptism despite what some say is not by water for it clearly says by the Spirit.

As a result All believers have the Holy Spirit inside them “ For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.”(Gal 3:26-27). This Scripture show again it is not water but by faith we enter into Christ and the Scripture makes it clear buy its examples.

Acts 11:15-17 “And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them, as upon us at the beginning. Then I remembered the word of the Lord, how He said, 'John indeed baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”’ If therefore God gave them the same gift as He gave us when we believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could withstand God?” This was the Gentiles salvation experience to be baptized in the Spirit.

In discussing this event of when the Gentiles were saved and also brought into the body Peter at the Jerusalem council said (Acts 15:8-9) “So God, who knows the heart, acknowledged them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He did to us, “and made no distinction between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.” It has and always will be by faith in the gospel message.

Rom 8:9 the Spirit of Christ, is the believers possession proving they are in Christ (Rom. 8:11) having eternal life, so the believer becomes the temple of the Spirit who is literally in the believer (1 Cor. 3:16; 6:19). So the Holy Spirit has been with the church and will continue to be with individuals throughout all ages.

We do not have a part of him but complete. Yet the Bible does mention subsequent fillings as we are commanded to be continually filled with the Spirit (Eph.5:18) so we can be fruitful and lead a life pleasing to the Lord. Every believer has the Holy Spirit.

The Return of Christ

The second coming of Christ to earth to establish His kingdom is a cornerstone of Biblical doctrine. If you do not believe Jesus is coming back bodily to rule and reign on earth you are unorthodox. The Lord promised it in Scripture, the apostles preached it, and the book of Revelation explains it.

Matthew 26:64 “But I say to all of you: In the future you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.
Luke 21:27: “At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory” (Matthew 24:29-30).

John 14:1-3: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”

The return of Christ is visible, not come in secret; All mankind will witness His coming, there will be no dispute. He comes back just as he left (Acts 1:11). When He returns it is in clouds (glory), it will be in the same body he rose in but eternal and glorified.

So it is the churches hope Titus 2:13 “while we wait for the blessed hope-- the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.”

We all know that many come to Christ with an imperfect understanding. God knows whether the heart is sincere and will reveal Him-self to the earnest seeker, but that is no excuse for our being vague or inaccurate in our presentation of the gospel. Nor does it excuse the church for not building people up in the foundations of their faith immediately after they have professed Christ as Lord and savior.

To answer the question that is the title of this article When is a Christian is not a Christian. When they claim they are Christian but do not hold to the core doctrines of the faith that make them a Christian.

When we no longer put up walls to hold to the original standard we will eventually be overcome by another standard. As Paul instructs us “... mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them” (Rom. 16:17). Instead of avoiding them we say nothing and give them the same platforms that genuine teachers of the word have. True believers do not twist or distort the Word of God (the essentials especially) to promote their ministries or themselves.

There are some things we should never back down on the core teachings. Peter said to give everyone who asks an answer-- this was outside the church. Jude said to contend earnestly for the faith-- this was to be inside the church. He meant to strive intensely to hold to what the apostles had already delivered. The faith delivered once to all the saints. This means a set system of beliefs (which we call doctrines) Jesus delivered to the apostles and became ownership of the church. At a time when historic Biblical Christianity is ravenously attacked from without and within, it is only the true saints that are filled with the Holy Spirit of truth that will have the courage to speak up and expose the error. We are to maintain the unity of the faith, the doctrine that the Holy Spirit has united us in. These are the core doctrines that make each of us a Christian, and brings one into the body of Christ

Paul says in 1 Timothy 1:3 “That you may charge some that they teach no other doctrine” Peter says of the Apostles’ doctrine: Acts 2:42 And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. 2 Jn 1:10 “If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him.”

As Christians we have the option and the freedom to ask questions which is not to be construed as unbelief or even opposition but for pursuing knowledge and confirming our faith as true. As Christians we should know what we believe and why we believe it. It is to help us understand Christ and Christianity in contradistinction to the other religions and cults that claim to represent him. It is essential to know that what we believe today is what the Bible actually teaches.

I will end in this prayer of Paul who wrote and affirmed these doctrines. Phil. 1:9-11 “And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God”

 

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