• Joseph Durso

Self-Professed Christianity

The average church-goer can be placed in one of two categories. First, there is the person who stands firmly on a Christianity of good works. He will tell you, "I haven't killed anyone; I'm a pretty good person. Why shouldn't I go to heaven?" The second category of people comprises those who understand the Gospel of grace. Such people will say they believe in Jesus Christ; they can't save themselves; therefore, they are going to heaven based on faith.

The key to Christianity is not saying what you believe but meaning what you say you believe. The proof is in the putting is how the saying goes. What is the fruit behind our words? What is the reality that resides in our hearts? If God were present now, what would He say about the sincerity of my words?

In many sermons that I have heard by that excellent British preacher, Martin Lloyd Jones, he would bring to light the reality that Christianity without experience is not Christianity at all. Mental assent is that by which a person approves Christianity's creed. Intellectual understanding is not enough to save a person from God. "You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart." (Jeremiah 29:13) A person's heart divides into three distinct parts. First, there is the mind or intellect by which facts are received and then believed or rejected. Second, there are emotions by which people feel and bear the fruit, if you will, of what they think, intellectually. If they believe in danger, they feel afraid; if things are perceived as good, they feel happy, and so on. Third, there is the will or the place where people make choices. The choices that matter involves good and evil or morality.

When all three parts that make up a person are involved in saving faith because they have experienced God, their salvation is authentic.

The Witness of Saving Faith

When we observe Jesus Christ, we behold the truth. His words are truth, and in Him alone, we can take comfort that there is no lie or deception. Jesus said, "If I glorify Myself, My glory is nothing; it is My Father who glorifies Me..." (John 8:54). Based on the divine trinity, self-professed Christianity is not adequate to be considered valid, and therefore acceptable. Jesus did not glorify Himself alone, but the Father glorified him. The Father did not glorify Himself, but it was the Son who glorified Him. "Jesus spoke these things; and lifting up His eyes to heaven, He said, "Father, the hour has come; glorify Your Son, that the Son may glorify You..." (John 17:1).

So then, what is the witness that verifies saving faith in the life of the believer? Let us hear what the Apostle Paul had to say, "Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, as some, letters of commendation to you or from you? You are our letter, written in our hearts, known and read by all men; being manifested that you are a letter of Christ, cared for by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.

Such confidence we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God, who also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life." (2 Corinthians 3:1-6)

What is Paul saying? Let us first discover that Paul was always so passionate. Why was his concern for the early Church shrouded with tears? After all, he was a dedicated Calvinist, wasn't he? Certainly, he believed in the sovereignty of God. That being the case, why did he cry for the Church? Didn't he know they were all going to heaven? Here's his answer.

"For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote to you with many tears; not so that you would be made sorrowful, but that you might know the love which I have especially for you." (2 Cor. 2:4) Love is always concerned for people, and it is never quieted by some mere intellectual understanding about God's sovereignty. Righteous men care deeply about doing right. Loving people care deeply about love. Honest people care deeply about the truth.

Paul said the proof of saving faith is not in mere words but authentic in spiritual people. He spoke not about demonic spirituality but about the Holy Spirit who lives in authentic believers' hearts. He said, "...written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts." He said, "...Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God..."

The Christian who places the full weight of their trust in God through Jesus Christ has certainty and assurance that does not fade away but becomes more meaningful to the very end.

The Spirit removes the Veil

Paul went on to say, "...whenever a person turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away." The veil placed on Moses was to hide the glory of God that faded from his face. Such glory should not disappear from the Christian's testimony, but it does.

When intellectualism or emotionalism replace spiritual life, the glory fades, and the Church divides. As a result of replacing our faith in Christ with our Church that overemphasizes a particular form of worship, practice, or doctrine Satan turns the Church's glory into a dead idol. Idolatry does not cease to be when its focus is a divine institution, such as the Church. An icon is anything that replaces Christ. A symbol is nothing more than a symbol, but a Christian filled with the Spirit of the living God carries God in His heart. He is nothing, but the God who is everything is present within him.

Do you want to know the difference between Christians whose glory fades and Christians whose glory increases? "Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit." (2 Corinthians 2:17)

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A Fable of Four Kings