Q&A: “How Good Must I be In Order to be Called a Christian?”

A Facebook friend-of-friend recently posted the following:

To be saved a person must stop smoking, drinking, drugs, and cussing. Attend church on a regular basis, and become a born again Christian. Now are you ready to commit to being a Christian? If not then Hell is your destiny…..If you don't believe me, read your Bible. So if you are still cussing like a sailor, or doing drugs, or getting drunk after you read this then you did not commit to being a Christian and you need to quit pretending like you are one. There is more to being a Christian than just saying you are. God bless and have a wonderful day……

Having seen this, the mutual friend to the one who posted tagged me for a response. Here it is:

One time, similar conversation took place within earshot of Jesus. Here is what happened:

"And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Mark 2:17; Luke 5:31; Matthew 9:12 ESV)

So, Jesus presents Himself as a Doctor. If you know you aren't perfectly healthy in relationship with God, then go to the Doctor so he can give you His cure. But, this idea you have to make yourself better before you can be a "Christian," or (worse) that you have no sickness in your flawed human nature, is just stupid.

It is quite a gift Jesus gives us by forgiving us and making us His child—able to partake in His Divine nature. So with that said, the Apostle whom Jesus loved writes this:

"Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! ….Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this earnest expectation, sourced in Him, purifies themselves, just as He is pure." (1 John 3:1-3)

Summary: you can't be good enough to earn merit with God. Turn to Jesus for rescue. AFTER that, you still can't be good enough to repay God or "keep" what you were given (Galatians 3:3). It is a gift. What you can do is live thankfully by aiming for being like Jesus, out of love and because He changed your identity to His child. We can't be perfectly like Jesus on this side of Heaven, but we should want to be transformed into Jesus' likeness as much as we possibly can until then.

We all (especially Christians) have areas of life needing transformation. I have habits and patterns of response… call them addictions, if you will. Everyone has some form of addiction—religious self-righteousness can be an example, as the above person's post reveals. No matter what is our weakness or mortal flaw, the important thing is to stay humbly transparent and keep faith that Jesus is the ultimate Deliverer. Desire to keep a big and open connection with Him! Sheep are safe & fed near the Shepherd; the sick do well when near the Doctor.

Jesus never asked us to "commit to being a Christian." He asked us to turn to Him for rescue!

Question & Answer: Why does God not go about like a superhero rescuing us from danger?

Q: Why does God not go about like a superhero rescuing us from danger?

A: After creation (Genesis 3), mankind chose—contrary to God’s design—to know “good AND evil.” That choice determined the consequential course of this world: danger, sickness, disaster, disease, death. God does not violate mankind’s original choice / free will… nor the course it set us on. He plays by his own rule of having granted mankind a sovereign self-determination. 

BUT, there is another way (besides superhero rescue) that he operates. While he cannot (by His own rule) violate the course of this world or the choices mankind’s free will. He CAN seek to redeem us from the evil we’ve known and done by supplying redemption (at His own cost) and making it a possible choice of our will. And so, God sent His only Son to provide atonement for all the sins of all mankind, including the original rebellion of having chosen contrary to His design. 

Besides this, we do not know how much evil God is holding back or preventing. 

__________________

OTHER RESOURCES:

10 Reasons Why God Does Not Heal Everyone and/or Prevent Evil

Dealing with Loss, Evil, Suffering and Hopelessness

Befitting Rewards: A Theodicy (Parts 1-4)

Colossians: Jesus is Better than Special Knowledge, Part 3

In the course of studying the Letter to the Colossians, one quickly notices the Apostle Paul gives a powerful and truthful defense of the Christian faith against gnosticism. “Jesus is better than special knowledge” is the theme of the epistle.

Colossians: Jesus is Better than Special Knowledge, Part 1 — Paul communicates joy and thanks for the Colossian believers just before describing the benefits each believer enjoys with Christ Jesus as Savior.

Colossians: Jesus is Better than Special Knowledge, Part 2 — Paul examines the greatness and glory of the Lord Jesus Christ, contrasted by what the Colossian believers were and did before they received redemption & reconciliation to God through Jesus. He furthermore explains the sure cleansing and reconciliation each believer has in Christ, but the Apostle warns them about wavering from faith in Jesus. These warnings and defenses are part of Paul’s (and every minister’s) struggle to preserve and guide the body of Christ—the Church.

The 3rd part of our study begins at the traditional chapter 2 mark.

2:1-7

Paul continues by explaining how great is his (inner) struggle for the Colossians and the Laodiceans and for all the new believers whom he had not seen face-to-face.

Why is seeing new believers so important to Paul? Even though Paul is absent in body, he is with the believers in spirit (v. 5), rejoicing to hear of their good determination and the firmness of their faith in Christ. But, Paul wishes to see new believers in person (especially the Colossians)…

  • SO THAT their hearts (with the result of being knit together in God’s love)…
    • might be encouraged to reach all the riches that come from:
      • (gaining) the full assurance that comes from understanding and fully knowing God’s mystery, which is Christ…
        • in Whom are hidden all the treasures of riches and knowledge.
  • IN ORDER THAT no one may delude the new believers with plausible arguments.

On these grounds, Paul charges the Colossian believers to continue walking in the Lord Jesus Christ, just as they had received him [with good determination and firmness of faith – ref. v. 5] …

  • being both rooted and built up [solely] in Jesus Christ
  • being established in the faith just as they were taught
    • [by] “abounding” (fig. meditating tirelessly) in those teachings with thanksgiving

2:8-15 

And so, Paul begins to warn believers against:

  • [The kinds of] Philosophy and Empty Words (Lies) which are

Paul warns them of these things, because:

  • In Christ dwells the fullness of the Godhead bodily. [He’s not a mere emanation]

This is important, because:

  • Believers have been filled (i.e. baptized) in Him, who is the Head of all (spiritual and physical) rule and authority.
    • In Him, believers were circumcised (showing identification as God’s) with a circumcision made without hands >>[Spirit baptism, see also Romans 6; 1 Cor. 12:13; Eph.1:13]>>
      • by putting off the body of the flesh by means of the Circumcision of Christ (a.k.a. Spirit baptism)
        • having been buried with him in (Spirit) baptism
        • [and] in which (baptism) believers were also raised with Him
          • through faith in the powerful working of God
            • who raised Him from the dead

And also, because:

  • Believers, who were once dead in regards to trespasses (disobedience to God’s Law) and the un-circumcision of the flesh (a.k.a. not belonging to God’s covenant of redemption), …
    •  God has made alive together with Christ…
      • having forgiven all our trespasses
        • by canceling our the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. God set this record aside, nailing it to the cross.
    • God disarmed the (spiritual) rulers and authorities and put them to open shame
      • by triumphing over them in Christ

 

In other words, JESUS IS BETTER THAN SPECIAL KNOWLEDGE!!!

“Redemption” by Marcus Warner

Lifepointe

 

 

 

 

 

 

December 29, 2014 | 40:36 Dr. Marcus Warner

When God pens a redemption story for your life, it often starts in a place you would rather not start – goes through a place that you would rather not go through – and ends in a place different but better than you ever imagined.