Thursday, September 1, 2022

A Morning Bible Study - God's Definition of a TRUE CHRISTIAN

by Leonard V Johnson

YOU'LL notice in our writings that we use the phrase “true Christian” quite a lot. Just what is a true Christian!? Many people certainly have their own definition of what a true Christian is – but let’s learn God’s definition.

Are you able to give God’s definition of just what is a true Christian!?

In the commonly called Sermon on the Mount, our Lord Jesus Christ describes for us the very basis of REAL CHRISTIANITY. He points out certain characteristics that clearly identify what a true Christian is.
1) What did our Lord Jesus say about the ‘poor in spirit’ in the Beatitudes!?
’ Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom [from] heaven.’ – Matthew 5:3.

‘Poor in spirit’ means humility. To be humble before God. Now, different people can have different interpretations of what that does or does not entail, but I think just focusing on that one thought – “You shall HUMBLE yourself before the ETERNAL.” And one understanding of that idea – that concept – is being willing to feel and to know in your mind that you are more impressed with what God says than what any human being says – including yourself.

Now, just the other day I came across a person that apparently thinks he knows more than God. He stated rather matter-of-factly to me, “There are many ways to interpret the Bible!” So many people become so puffed up with a sense of self-righteousness that they are willing to tell people, “Don’t believe what God says, believe what you think it says!” Well, that’s a mistake!

Our Lord Jesus went on to show us that those that are truly humble – and, by the by, when the LORD our God says that we must ‘afflict our souls’ in the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month (the Day of Atonement) – a great many ministers have made a great deal about this ‘to afflict your soul.’ But we want to point out to you that this is a poor translation. The phrase in Hebrew, the root of it, and the meaning of it is “you shall HUMBLE yourself before the Lord.” Now, does this mean fast!? Many people say, “Yes, it does!” Jewish tradition says it does. Jewish tradition, if you’re going to be a ‘Jewish follower,’ and follow their TRADITIONS, on the Day of Atonement, you’re not supposed to eat or drink, not supposed to wear shoes made out of leather, not supposed to bathe, no cologne or perfume, or lotion, no sex – a whole list of things you cannot do! – IF you follow ‘Jewish tradition.’ 1

Don’t follow Jewish traditions (cf. Matthew 15:3; Mark 7:6-8), follow JESUS CHRIST OUR LORD!

Notice this verse in the Hebrew/Greek Key Word Study Bible – the New American Standard Bible“’ And this shall be a permanent statute for you: in the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, you shall HUMBLE your souls [life], and not do any work, whether the native, or the alien [stranger] who sojourns among you.’” – Leviticus 16:29, NASB.
2) What will ‘the meek’ inherit in addition to being BORN into the glorious family of God!?
’ Blessed are the meek [the HUMBLE], For they shall inherit the earth.’ – Matthew 5:5.

Notice that it DOES NOT say that the meek shall inherit heaven! It’s not what He said. These are the Words of Jesus Christ! ‘Blessed are the meek, For they shall INHERIT THE EARTH.’ The reward of the saints is to have immortal and eternal life in the kingdom of God in New Jerusalem ON THE EARTH.

Not in some galaxy far far away. Which is what almost every church teaches. And it’s just sort of sad.

Was and is our Lord Jesus Christ meek!?

’ Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I AM gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls [lives].’ – Matthew 11:29.

Yes indeed, our Lord Jesus Christ has the characteristic of being ‘gentle and lowly in heart.’ But, friends – this verse has NOTHING to do with replacing the holy Sabbath as so many churches of this world erroneously teach! As an example: Donnie Swaggart – on his mother’s program – when asked about the Sabbath on a call-in used this Scripture and said, “Oh no! Matthew 11 does away with that!” And yet, what do we read just a few verses later!?

Matthew 12:8 – ’ For the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.’ – referring to Himself! Because right here it’s just plain as day! Jesus Christ is Lord of the Sabbath! Does it sound like He’s changed anything!? No!

Back in verse 30, Matthew 11!? ’ For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.’ What is He talking about!? ‘My yoke is easy and My burden is light’?

He’s comparing the New Covenant with the constrictions of the Old Covenant.

The very use of a “big lie” was a propaganda technique used by Satan the Devil in the garden of Eden (Genesis 3:1-4). And, the very expression ‘big lie’ was somewhat expressed by Adolf Hitler in his book Mein Kampf. He preached, the use of a lie so “colossal” no one would believe, would make them accept it as their own natural inclination to think that no one “could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously.”

Will true Christians exhibit our Lord Jesus’ characteristic of meekness in their daily lives!?

Our beloved Apostle Paul says to us that his main goal was focused on being a part of the kingdom of God! Philippians 3 – “that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, …” Vs. 11 – “if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.” And in vs. 13, some awesome wisdom – “…forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead.” – worry about the future, worry about the kingdom of God!

Vs. 14 – “I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15) Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this in mind …” – and then he said in Philippians chapter 4, verse 4 – these are ideas that I think we should read on regular basis. “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! 5) Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. 6) Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving [don’t forget that part! – you have to be thankful!], let your requests be made known to God; 7) and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. 8) Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy – meditate on these things.” – don’t worry about finding mistakes that people in your environment has made. Think about the positive things that are in that person’s life or your life. He says, Verse 9 – “The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.” – wouldn’t all love to simply have peace to be a part of our life!?

Now, there is a difference between being meek and being weak. Our Lord Jesus Christ was and is HUMBLE, but He isn’t weak! As I’ve said, His life was not a life of ease. His life was filled with constant trials of every kind! Yes, our Lord Jesus Christ knew what real tribulation was! And, it pains my heart to know that so many of our peoples are worshiping a FALSE JESUS! cf. Matthew 24:4-5. A “dead on a cross” Jesus, or a “little Lord Jesus” – “the little baby Jesus”! NO! What they don’t appear to understand is the God we read about in Exodus 20 is the very same being that we read about who is our Savior! The very One who says, “’ I AM the LORD your God, …’”!

’ I AM He who LIVES, and was dead, and behold, I AM alive evermore. Amen. …’ – Revelation 1:18.

The very same Jesus Christ who inspired the Apostle John to write – “’ Now I saw heaven [meaning here the atmosphere] opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness HE JUDGES AND MAKES WAR. 12) His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. 13) He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and HIS NAME IS CALLED THE WORD OF GOD. 14) And the armies in heaven [the atmosphere], clothed in fine linen, white and clean [symbolic of righteousness], followed Him ON WHITE HORSES. 15) Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And HE HIMSELF will rule them with a rod of iron. HE HIMSELF treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.” – Revelation 19:11-15. Does this sound to you like a “hippie type” long-haired counterculture “Sallman Head” Jesus!? Or, and I say this to your shame, a little boy named Malak in the movie Exodus: God’s and Kings!?

In reality, Jesus Christ probably had short curly hair, possibly had a beard, He worked construction in His stepfather’s business all of His life – and they say – as my cousin the other day used the phrase “Jesus carpenter.” They show a likeness of Him whittling a little stretcher for a chair – that was His carpenter work. No, Jesus worked with timbers, and stone and brick, they were big and heavy, and Jesus had developed by the time He was thirty years of age into a very stout young man. Jesus was big and strong and burly and manly. He wasn’t this little wimpy guy. And He had this air about Him – when He spoke, we’re told, He spoke with authority! And this is certainly unnerving to a lot of people. He was POWERFUL IN APPEARANCE!

Yet, He was without resentment towards others. A HUMBLE person will not try and justify himself when he is wrong. Neither does he feel the need to be superior to others. He will not seek revenge.

’ Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful. 37) Judge not, and you shall not be judged.’ – Luke 16:36.
3) What will a true Christian be “hungering and thirsting” for!?
’ Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled.’ – Matthew 5:6.

In the Book of Matthew, in the 21st chapter – He gave a prophecy here.

’ … A man had two sons, and he came to the first and said, ‘Son, go, work today in my vineyard.’ 29) He answered and said, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he regretted it and went. 30) Then he came to the second and said likewise. And he answered and said, ‘I go, sir,’ but he did not go.’ – now, this is a parable that Jesus is giving to these Pharisees sitting there.

’ Which of the two did the will of his father?’ They said to Him, ‘The first.’ Jesus said to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you that tax collectors [publicans] and harlots enter the kingdom of God before you. 32) For John came to you in the Way of righteousness, …’ – John the Baptist came preaching righteousness. “ … ‘and you did not believe him; but the tax collectors [publicans] and harlots believed him; and when you saw it, you did not afterward relent and believe him.’

And, of course, they realized that that parable was talking about them! That these publicans and harlots had actually repented at the preaching of John and they believed on Jesus Christ – the Messiah – and they were going to be one of the very first ones to march into God’s kingdom! Yet these self-righteous religious people that were standing with phylacteries strapped to their foreheads and left arms – with long fringes on their garments – were saying, ‘Yes, Lord, we’ll do everything You tell us to do!’ But in their heart they never did it!

Our Lord Jesus Christ would later say in John, the 14th chapter –

And, friends, a lot of people will make the excuse – like my beloved wife – “I don’t want anything to do with religion!” She famously states, “One can believe in God without religion.” When in TRUTH real Christianity brings true happiness. It brings real genuine joy and peace within your heart – about our current situation and also concerning our future.

’ I AM the way, the truth, and the life. No one [no man or woman] comes to the Father except through Me.’ – there is only ONE WAY to eternal life and that’s through Jesus Christ!

But, how does one know what righteousness is!?

It’s through God’s Law – summed up with the TEN COMMANDMENTS – see Exodus 20:1-17; Matthew 22:36-40. His Law which existed long before Moses – the Law which tells us what is wrong and what is right – cf. Romans 7:7.

So, if God is righteous, and if God’s Law is righteous – “My tongue shall speak of Your word, FOR ALL YOUR COMMANDMENTS ARE RIGHTEOUSNESS.” – Psalm 119:172 – then does the God family abide by Their own standard!? Does God abide by the Law which the LORD God put in place!?

God the Father and Jesus Christ have to - or else Their whole Master Plan wouldn’t work at all.

In Psalm, chapter 48, and verse 10, King David wrote, “Your right hand is full of righteousness.”

Now, God created this earth, but He demanded us to do what is right – and this is what righteousness means, doing what is right. Don’t do wrong – commit evil. Don’t do what is contrary to God’s Law.

Indeed, what is expected of all men – “Fear God, …” meaning reverently fear. “ … and keep His commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.” – Ecclesiastes 12:13, KJV.

So, to ‘hunger and thirst for righteousness’ is to be deeply motivated in OBEYING GOD! In keeping His Law – summed up in the Ten Commandments. Those who are truly hungering and thirsting for righteousness will certainly be studying God’s living word for the living Truth of God, and the ultimate Plan of God. They will be willing to change – to REPENT – when they’ve been wrong, admitting to God their wrong traditional beliefs, their utter mistakes, and sins.

“Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling ACCURATELY the word of truth.” – 2 Timothy 2:15, NASB.
4) Who is JUSTIFIED BEFORE GOD!? – the ‘hearers’ of the Law or the ‘doers’!?
“(for not the hearers of the Law are just in the sight of God, but the DOERS of the Law will be justified).” – Romans 2:13.

And this is something every one of us needs to think about on a regular basis.

“…For we shall all [all of us one day] stand before the judgment seat of Christ.” – Romans 14:10.

Someday we’re going to have to stand before Jesus Christ and somehow try and justify what we said, what we did, and what we believed.

“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body [or throughout his/her life], according to what he [or she] has done, whether good or bad [evil].” – 2 Corinthians 5:10.

“Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. 8) For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap [DEATH], but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap EVERLASTING LIFE.” - Galatians 6:7-8.

Those are POWERFUL WORDS! And remember and consider the Words of Jesus Christ in Matthew 12, “…‘ every idle word [act or thought] …’ vss. 36 and 37, “…’ men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. 37) For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.’ – Matthew 12:36-37.

Let us also consider – “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law [speaking here of the Law of Moses – the Old Covenant].” – Romans 3:28.

Are true Christians REQUIRED to keep God’s Law – summed up in the TEN COMMANDMENTS!?

“Do we then make void the Law through faith? CERTAINLY NOT! On the contrary, we establish the Law.” – Romans 3:31.

The universal message from nearly every pulpit falsely tells people that Jesus Christ abolished, or “fulfilled,” His Father’s law – but your Bible says otherwise!

God’s living divine word mentions nothing about grace being a license to disobey the Law of God! To be “under grace” means to be extended mercy and forgiveness as a result of sincere repentance and resolve to obey Almighty God.

This is explained further by the Apostle Paul –

“For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under Law but under grace. What then? Shall we sin because we are not under Law but under grace? Certainly not!” – Romans 6:14-15.

Now, does that raise a lot of tongue wagging! The people who want to say that the Ten Commandments are done away, they will cite this verse and say, “See, you’re not under law, you’re under grace.”

We don’t have enough room here in this short Bible Study to go over this VERY IMPORTANT subject, but to learn more be sure to watch the sermons “Look To Jesus, Not Moses,” as well as “Is The Law Done Away?”
5) Who did our Lord Jesus Christ say will enter into His kingdom!?
’ Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom [from] heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22) Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name? 23) And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ – Matthew 7:21-23.

So, notice that there were to be two groups calling Jesus ‘Lord.’ One group that does the will of God the Father in heaven and the other that practices lawlessness.

Sadly, very few properly understand the “mystery of lawlessness” which was already at work in the first century. The “mystery of lawlessness” is related to what we speak about in the article “Are You But A Traditionalist?” Professing Christians who believe that they DO NOT need to keep God’s Ten Commandments, etc. – and so while they believe that they have a form of God’s Law, they are not keeping the religion that our Lord Jesus Christ nor His apostles would recognize.
6) If God’s chosen begotten children choose to turn away and begin to walk contrary to Him – refusing to obey Him – what did the LORD God say would happen!? Read Leviticus 26:14-39; noticing vss. 14, 23-24, 27-28.
To properly understand God’s kingdom, we must first study His Way of governing people. And we can learn this from the Way that He dealt with ancient Israel in the past. We also need to learn how God deals with us even now, and what He will do in the immediate future. You are going to need and use this vital information.

The administration of the civil government of ancient Israel actually reveals to us God’s method of dealing directly with unconverted, fleshly, sinning people. To be factual – the government of ancient Israel had church and state combined – though it was physical, the administration of civil and religious statutes and ordinances was combined. Bear in mind, as Minister Michael Garrett reminds us over and over – ancient Israel was NEVER promised salvation at that time. The promises under the Old Covenant were material – cf. Leviticus 26:3-12. They were not converted, nor did they have God’s Holy Spirit, hence they could not understand spiritual things. They were like the majority of people today. God dealt with them in a purely physical manner – PUNISHING THEM FOR THEIR CRIMES.

To ‘walk with the LORD our God’ clearly means to keep His Commandments, Statutes, and Judgments! And to do those things which are pleasing in His sight. This is another Way to be a true Christian.
7) Can a person be a true Christian without having God’s Holy Spirit!?
We speak quite a bit about the concept of CHRIST IN YOU!

And it actually comes from a phrase that we read about in Romans 8:10, when the Apostle Paul says, “But you are not in the flesh but IN THE SPIRIT, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if ANYONE does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.” – Romans 8:9-10.

And, while we’re here –

“For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are [children] of God.” – Romans 8:14.

And since JESUS CHRIST is the Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:17) and your body is the temple of the Spirit – which is Christ in you, we must be nourished daily by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!! Christianity is a growth process. The begotten child of God MUST grow! And this growing process requires TIME! We MUST overcome these three – Satan the devil, this world, and our own SELVES!

And, let me end this Bible Study today with the words of our Lord Jesus Christ to all true Christians –

Revelation 2:7 – ’ He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit [the very mind of God] says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.’

Verse 11 – ’ He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death.’

Verse 17 – ’ He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna to eat. And I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it.’

Verse 26 – ’ And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations – ’

Revelation 3:5 – He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.’

Verse 12 – “’ He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple [in the kingdom of God] of My God, and he shall go out no more. I will write on him the name of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God. And I will write on him My new name.’

Verse 21 – ’ To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.’

Scriptural Index:

Old Testament - Genesis 3:1-4; Exodus 20:1-7; Leviticus 16:29; 26:3-12, 14-39; Psalm 48:10; 119:172; Ecclesiastes 12:13; Isaiah 41:13
New Testament - Matthew 5:3, 5, 6; 7:21-23; 11:29, 30; 12:8, 36-37; 15:3; 21:28-30, 31-32; 22:36-40; 24:4-5; Mark 7:6-8; Luke 16:36-37; John 14:6; Romans 2:13; 3:28, 31; 6:14-15; 8:9-10, 14; 14:10; 2 Corinthians 5:10; Philippians 3:10, 11, 13, 14, 15; 4:4, 5-8, 9; Colossians 3:12-16, 23; 2 Timothy 2:15; Revelation 1:18; 2:7, 11, 17, 26; 3:5, 12, 21; 19:11-15.

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