Essentials for Salvation, Part IV

A real Christian may not have a job, but is ready to work for the Lord at any given moment, and, indeed, puts his heart into serving the Lord gladly. (Matthew 20:4; 1 Corinthians 10:31). A real Christian may not have a formal education, but, because of his devotion to the Scriptures, is able even to teach others (Psalm 119:97-100). A Christian may not have a house, many possessions, or even any natural (blood) relatives. But because he is a new creation in Christ and is now part of a new family, has become a partaker of all things pertaining to that family: “houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms” (John 1:12; Mark 10:29-30). Indeed, he is “rich” in this sense. His cup runs over. He is filled. He is satisfied.

A Christian does not “shy away” from belonging to such a family. He does not neglect to the regular “assembling together” of God’s people, “as is the habit of some.” (Hebrews 10:25). He is diligent to find those people with whom he belongs, with whom God has said to him, “You must go there and worship with my people, and belong. This is my commandment to you. Obey it. You’ll be blessed. You’ll be treated as part of the family. Only, stick with it. Be consistent. Be regular. I will bless you there.”

A Christian, of course, fellowships with those people who have a “like faith” as he. He is not persuaded by those who share different fundamental convictions as he has and refuses to partake of their counsel in spiritual matters (Psalm 1:1). Instead, he teaches them, knowing that God will not only reward him for doing so, but use his teaching to bring in a harvest of souls into God’s kingdom (Matthew 5:19; Mark 4:13-20; John 4:34-36). He realizes the utter importance of having a “sound doctrine (teaching),” which is in accordance with the teachings of Scripture (1 Timothy 4:6; 2 Timothy 3:16,17). That is also why he spends time studying the word of God on a regular basis. (Joshua 1:8; Psalm 1:2). He insists on knowing the truth that will set him free (John 8:32,34). He does merely not rely on others to “teach it to him,” though he does realize that God has raised up leaders within the church who are responsible for teaching and training others (Ephesians 4:11).

A Christian realizes that established leaders are important. He realizes that God has given them to guide the flock. (1 Corinthians 12:28). But, like a good and faithful steward, he needs to know for himself that the teaching which he is receiving is “in accordance with sound doctrine.” (Titus 1:9; 2:1). When the slightest doubt arises as to whether a person’s teaching is correct (because he knows that man is prone to error (Romans 3:23)), like the Bereans of old, he examines the Scriptures to see whether or not the teaching is true and reliable (Acts 17:11). For this reason, it can be said of this person, that he is like a “tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season.” (Psalm 1:3). He knows that, when he is firmly planted, that he will not be able to be shaken when the storm comes. He will remain firm.

A true Christian would recognize than all of mankind is utterly prone to being fallible and making mistakes. Who can say he is pure and without sin? (Romans 3:23; Proverbs 20:9). Even the pope himself would admit this. A true Christian would not fall under this deception, and so allow himself to think that any person existed (except the Lord Jesus Christ) who as without sin (Hebrews 4:15). And when someone teaches the Scriptures, again, like the Bereans of old, the diligent Christian “checks things out” to see if they are in accordance with Scripture, even though he should receive the teaching from an established church leader like Paul or Silas (Acts 17:10-12). Indeed, the true Christian’s standard is not what man teaches, nor what tradition teaches, but what Scripture teaches, which he knows that Jesus declared be the truth (John 17:17), and really the “only thing” on this earth (apart from our souls) that will not one day “pass away.” (Matthew 24:35). Other teachings, especially including the teachings of some traditions, he knows are prone to a great many deceptive errors. (Matthew 15:1-9).

The true Christian stands up for what he knows to be right. (Mark 8:38). He is tactful in his approach and “seasons his words with salt,” as it were. (Ephesians 4:29; Colossians 4:6). But he does not shy away from saying what he knows to be the true and reliable word of God. He is not afraid of what others think, realizing that God’s word is the essential element which is able to save a man from eternal damnation. (Romans 10:17; John 5:24). He explicitly realizes that man’s word cannot do this, which is also why he spends time memorizing the Scriptures. (Deuteronomy 11:18). Therefore, the Christian places God’s word, and the diligent study of God’s word as one of the highest of priorities in his life. His standard is the word of God, not the words of man, or the words of tradition. He is adamant about this, and will not change his mind, ever. To the true Christian, the word of God is none other than “a lamp to [his] feet, and a light to [his] path.” (Psalms 119:105). Through it, he obtains guidance and wise counsel. (Proverbs 1:1-7).