Life in Christ:
The True and the Counterfeit
Do you believe that you have a saving relationship with God? Do you think you are on your way to heaven? Are you actually living for Jesus? Or have you accepted a counterfeit–an imitation that claims to be of Christ but fails the tests of the Word of God? These are provocative questions–and we must be certain of their answers!
Sadly–and shockingly–MOST people have been spiritually deceived. Scripture says that Satan, our great enemy, “deceives the whole world” (Rev. 12:9). This even includes most religious people! Nearly ALL who claim to be saved and profess to be Christians actually are deceived about their spiritual condition and their eternal destiny. It is vital that you discover right now whether you actually have been forgiven and presently are in Christ. Paul challenges us: “Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves” (2 Cor. 13:5). Please carefully ponder this message and ask whether you are truly a Christian in the sight of God.
The arrangement is simple. First, we will note the modern counterfeit that clothes itself in the guise of Christianity. Then, immediately following, we will notice what Scripture declares about the given point. Please pray even now that God will enlighten you and help you to see the difference between popular falsehood and God’s own saving truth!
(1) FALSE: AN “EASY BELIEVISM”
Many religious teachers tell a sinful person to “simply believe in Jesus,” or “just invite Jesus into your heart,” or “pray a little sinner’s prayer.” They then confidently assure the convert that he is saved and can never be lost! This bare, superficial “belief” in Jesus supposedly saves the sinner from sin and hell!
TRUE: Scripture says that the sinner must sincerely trust in the crucified Son of God (John 3:14-18) who is the living Lord (Acts 16:31; Romans 10:9; Col. 2:6; 2 Cor. 4:5). He must rest his entire confidence in God through Christ. One must submit to the Lord Jesus, bow before His absolute authority, and obey Him, if he wants to be saved from sin (Heb. 5:9; Jn. 14:15; 3:36, NASB).
(2) FALSE: SIMPLY “FEELING SORRY” FOR SIN
Great numbers of people have merely “felt sorry” that they have done a few “wrong” things in life. Because they confess these to God, they assume that He will forgive them. Yet, their hearts have not been touched and their lives remain unchanged! They continue to live for themselves and their own sinful pursuits!
TRUE: Genuine conversion involves true repentance–a sincere change of heart that renounces all known sin and purposes to live fully for God (Acts 3:19,26; 26:18,20). Further, it is a choice to forsake all sin and cease living for it (Prov. 28:13). One must determine to die to sin and begin to live for God and His will (Romans 6:2-3; 1 Pet. 2:24; 2 Cor. 5:14-15; 1 Thess. 1:9-10).
(3) FALSE: BAPTISM VIEWED AS MERELY “SYMBOLIC” OR AS A MERITORIOUS ACT OF SALVATION
On the one hand, many have merely submitted to an empty and superficial ritual or “church ordinance” that is thought to testify to an assumed prior salvation or is the “door” to the local church. Others have elevated baptism to the position of a saving sacrament consisting of “holy water” that forgives even little infants!
TRUE: Scripture reveals that baptism is only for those who truly repent of their sins, place all of their faith in God through Jesus Christ, and commit their lives to Him (Matt. 28:19-20; Acts 2:38; Rom. 6:3-7). All saving power is in God who forgives through Christ and His shed blood (Rom. 3:24-26; 5:6-9). Yet baptism is connected with forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38; 22:16; Col. 2:12-13), salvation (Mark 16:16; 1 Pet. 3:20-21), union with Christ (Rom. 6:3; Gal. 3:27), new life in Him (Rom. 6:4; Col. 2:12-13), becoming a disciple (Matt. 28:18-20), the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38-39), and entrance into a relationship with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Matt. 28:19). How amazingly significant is true baptism (immersion)–and how unlike the denominational ritual called baptism!
(4) FALSE: CHURCHIANITY AND RELIGION
Many falsely think that salvation comes through church membership and church rituals. They vainly assume that they will be given heaven by being religious and doing good things. Their conception of the “church” becomes the focus of their lives and doing “good things” (?) is their plea for acceptance with God.
TRUE: The Word of God primarily focuses upon the Lord Jesus Christ. It teaches CHRISTianity rather than CHURCHianity! Salvation consists of knowing God and His Son (John 17:3), having fellowship with God (1 John 1:3), and being personally related to Him as Heavenly Father (1 John 3:1-2). While the Christian will do right things, these can never save (Eph. 2:8-10). We do good because we love Christ (John 14:15) and are new creatures in Him (Eph. 2:10).
(5) FALSE: DENOMINATIONALISM AND SECTARIANISM
Sadly, many professing “Christians” today claim to be loyal members of a humanly-established and organized denomination. They are proud of their membership in their man-made institution and assume that God is pleased with this allegiance. They proudly wear unscriptural names and titles.
TRUE: Christ did not come to create a denomination, religious institution, or sect. Rather, He came to be the “Savior of the body” and “gave Himself up for her” (Eph. 5:23,25). He purchased with His blood this precious body of true, obedient believers (Acts 20:28). It rests upon the firm foundation of Christ alone (1 Cor. 3:11; Matt. 16:16-18). Paul strictly forbade Christians from calling themselves after any human leader (e.g., Cephas, Paul, Apollos, Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Wesley, Menno Simons, etc.)(1 Cor. 1:10-13; 3:1-4,21).
(6) FALSE: MATERIALISM AND PROSPERITY
Amazingly, in some religious circles materialism has become a virtue! “Prosperity teachers” proclaim their greedy, money-hungry doctrines on television while flaunting their ungodly affluent lifestyles. Professing “Christians” justify their luxury automobiles, expensive homes, lavish furnishings, fine clothes, jewelry, and bank accounts–unmindful that they live like the rest of the world around them.
TRUE: Christ Jesus became poor that we might receive His spiritual riches (2 Cor. 8:9). He called upon His followers to renounce wealth (Mark 10:21-25), to turn from materialism (Luke 12:15-21), and to refuse to pile up treasures for themselves on earth (Matt. 6:19-24). Those who say that religion is a means of financial gain actually have a “depraved mind” and are “deprived of the truth” (1 Tim. 6:5). Paul called covetousness “idolatry” (Col. 3:5) and revealed the peril of riches (1 Tim. 6:9-10). Believers are to give of their abundance to the Lord, to His work, and to saints in need (2 Cor. 8:1-15; 9:6-7; Rom. 12:13; Acts 4:34-35).
(7) FALSE: CARNAL PLEASURE AND WORLDLINESS
The pursuit of carnal, earthly pleasure is not limited to the non-religious in our day. Faithful church members also are deeply involved in the ways of the world. Even pastors, preachers, and teachers fill their minds with the idolatry of sports and games. Professing “Christians” delight in movies, videos, television, worldly literature, computer games, swimming parties, worldly music, and other amusements. Revealing, immodest clothing is the norm. Yes, carnal church members are like the world–because THEY ARE PART OF THE WORLD!
TRUE: God calls His people to not be conformed to the world (Rom. 12:2) or love the world (1 John 2:15-17). They are not to be stained by the world (James 1:27) or be friends with the world (4:4). Instead, true Christians are to be separated people–holy in speech, conduct, and attitudes (Heb. 12:14; 1 Thess. 4:3-8; 5:23). Unrepentant, sinful Christians must be separated from the body of Christ (Matt. 18:15-17; 1 Cor. 5:1-13; 2 Thess. 3:6-15). Rather than seeking pleasure in the sin, foolishness, and frivolity of our day, true believers are to set their minds on the things of the Spirit and things above (Rom. 8:5-8; Col. 3:1-2).
(8) FALSE: MARRIAGE AND FAMILY IN DISARRAY
Professing “Christians” seemingly are molded by the culture of this present evil age. Weak, uncaring husbands and “liberated,” feminist wives are the norm. Irresponsible fathers and working mothers are the rule. Children, trained in the humanistic, worldly public schools, are selfish, worldly, disobedient, and rebellious. Wrongful divorce and remarriage with consequent adultery is shockingly prevalent in denominational churches. Even religious leaders justify adulterous marriages!
TRUE: Genuine believers seek well-ordered marriages and families in which God’s will is supreme. Believing husbands are to be loving but firm spiritual leaders who recognize their responsible headship (Eph. 5:23,25,28; cf. 1 Tim. 3:4). Believing wives are to be loving helpers who recognize their place of honor and submission (Eph. 5:22-24; Titus 2:4-5). Fathers must teach and train their children in Godly character (Eph. 6:4). Sons and daughters must honor and obey their parents (Eph. 6:1-3). Christian couples must recognize that God intends marriage to be a life-long relationship where unselfishness and complete faithfulness prevails (Matt. 19:4-9; Heb. 13:4). Christ is the Head of the home!
(9) FALSE: UNCONDITIONAL SECURITY
While it is not a unanimous view among Evangelicals, the theology of “unconditional eternal security” or “once saved always saved” is an exceedingly common one. Extreme proponents shockingly claim that once a person has made a momentary, one-time act of faith, he may cease believing and even become an atheist, a blasphemer, and an adulterer–yet retain his salvation and go to heaven!
TRUE: Scripture does teach the absolute spiritual security of the sincerely obedient believer who continues to follow Christ (John 10:27-29). However, this is a CONDITIONAL security. It is contingent upon one’s continual obedient, submissive relationship with the Lord Jesus in whom he enjoys eternal life (1 John 5:11-13; John 8:31-32). Only the one who continues to exercise living faith (1 Cor. 15:1-2; Col. 1:23), remains in union with Christ (John 15:1-6), and puts to death sinful deeds (Rom. 8:13; 1 Cor. 6:9-11) can claim spiritual life and entertain the hope of a heavenly home (Heb. 4:1-11; 10:26-39).
We began by asking you several serious questions: Do you really have a saving relationship with God and are you on your way to heaven? Are you actually living in Christ and for Him? Or have you accepted a counterfeit “Christianity”?
If you have followed the foregoing points, you are now in a better position to answer these questions. Vast numbers have accepted a popular counterfeit. They have been deceived by Satan, our spiritual enemy. If you are among this majority, won’t you please thoughtfully consider this message. Now is the time to awaken from your delusion and embrace the truth! Determine that you will follow the Lord Jesus fully. Choose to enter the narrow gate and walk the narrow way that brings life now and leads to life eternal! Sadly, the vast majority will disregard this message, ridicule it, condemn it, or just leave it and forget about it! What will YOU do with the truth you have read? This is your opportunity of a lifetime!