A Question That Exposes Your Relationship With Christ

A vehicle owner who is inexperience dealing with vehicle tires can be talked into paying top price for tires, not realizing they have purchased a low grade tire.  Many vehicle owners think, “Hey, a tire is a tire, right?”  They purchase tires expecting to get high mileage and top performance. It is not long the ever changing condition of driving breaks down the tire treads, thus the vehicle owner finds him or herself back in the tire shop purchasing new tires or worse yet unexpectedly setting along the road with a flat tire.  In their frustration, they cannot understand, it was ignorance about tires that put them were they are now. You see in purchasing tires – there are different treads, and stronger tire plies, such as four ply, six ply or eight ply and even ten ply tires.  Asking a tire specialist is always the high road to take before you purchase tires. 

Many believers in God find themselves walking in and out of church shops, if you will, frustrated, because they are inexperienced in the things of God. To them, “Hey, a church is a church, right?  Religion is religion, right?” They simply lack what it takes to determine the difference between believing from a world’s view and true belief in the things of the Lord.     

I would propose to you there are ten clear differences from someone who claims to be a believer in God and someone who is a Christian. Someone can claim to believe in something, yet never live in a way that indicates they believe what they say they believe in.  I spent thirty-two plus years in the farrier trade, the horse shoeing business. I can tell you there are people who claim to love horses, but the do very little to learn about, take care of or make plans to be involved in true horsemanship.  You and I can claim we want to do such and such, but when we do very little to learn about, nurture or participate in what we said we would like to do. The results are not living on the high road God wants us to travel on. 

Just what are ten clear differences between someone who says they are a believer and someone who expresses true saving faith in Jesus Christ as their personal Savior and Lord?   James, the half-brother of Jesus writes, “Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show my faith by what I do. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even demons believe that – and shudder. You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless?” (James 2:18-20)   The answers to James’ challenge begins with:

Worldly Believing vs. True Belief

There is a difference between someone who says they believe and someone who follows Jesus commands.  Jesus said, “If you love Me, you will obey my commands.” (John 14:15)  He also said, “If you keep My commands, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.” There are two key words we must grasp here. 1.) True belief and 2.) Abide.

Believe (πιστεύω pisteúō): Meaning to have faith in, causing you to seek the Lord, have hope in – along with an expectation that God is able and will do as He says He will. (Zodhiates, S. (2000). The complete word study dictionary: New Testament (electronic ed.). Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers.)

Abide (μένω ménō): Meaning to remain, dwell in or live in the life Christ lived before God, His father.  Means you are in the same heart, mind and will as Jesus Christ. (Zodhiates, S. (2000). The complete word study dictionary: New Testament (electronic ed.). Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers.)

Dictionary.com teaches us to believe is to have such a “confidence in something or someone it causes us to act purposely” Dictionary.com gives another definition: “to suppose or assume or understand.”   The practical application is: Christians seek the Lord’s direction, they trust in His sustaining empowerment and they long to enjoy God’s pleasure as they abide in His will for them.  Times Square Church felt led of the Lord to purchase a house for women who came out of the life style of prostitution. They wanted to not just tell women it was a sin, but make a practical way for them to come out, be provide for and have a hope for their future. Time Square Church sought the Lord for a way to provide a safe house for these woman and their children along with getting an education for them as well.  There are people who understand there is a God, they assume that He is in some kind of control and suppose that someone will do something. However, they do not participate in God’s work nor walk in His will for them.

Life application: Are you a believer with a worldly view point or an obedient Christian like Jesus was to His Father?

Church Attendance vs. Christ-like Participation

Another difference from a believer and a Christian is church attendance verses Christ-like participation. The Bible says, “Now about the gifts of the Spirit, I do not want you to be uniformed. …Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.” (1 Corinthians 12)  Believers in God may very well be in church services every Sunday. Obedient Christians will seek to know their Holy Spirit gifts, they will exercise those gifts through sacrificial love for the good of all they may come in contact with for the glory of God and Jesus Christ His Son. The preachers and teachers of Jesus day were perfect at church attendance. They were so reliable in church attendance, they missed the most important Christian service ever, the death of the Savior of the world on Mt. Calvary.

Life Application: Is our church attendance like that of the religious dead of Jesus’ time or are we exercising Holy Spirit gifts like, encouragement, giving, leading music, teaching God’s Word. The Bible teaches there are at least twenty-one gifts we are to be exercising. The Lord knows our hearts.

Your Response To God’s Word

Another difference from a believer with a worldly influence and a Christian is their heart attitude toward the written or spoken Word of God.  When I became a Christian – I had my mother-in-law get me a Bible to read, Bonnie (my wife who passed away) put book markers on the pages so I could find the books of the Bible.  I thought – I could look up the passages of Scripture the preacher was teaching on and read it during the church service. In my worldly view, I thought that was the way it is done right?

On October 19, 1987 I receive a hunger and thirst for God’s Word. I had never read anything from the Bible, nor heard any real teaching from it until after I became a Christian.  Christians at the very least will have this heart attitude, the Bible is God’s Word and they will have some sort of a reverent respect for the written Word.

This is why: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He [Jesus] was with God in the beginning.” (John 1:1-2)  “The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us.  We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)   The “Word” (λόγος logos) meaning Divine revelation and declaration. Jesus encompassed all who God is and is the revelation of how we are live for God. The Apostle Paul wrote to Titus and to us as well, “He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that [we] can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.” (Titus 1:9)

Practical Application: The Word of God does not need some illustration or some kind of flamboyant story. The living Word stands on it own, Christians who grasp the life of Christ has the same heart of Psalmist who wrote these powerful truths, “Blessed are those who walk according to the law of the Lord. Blessed are those who keep His statues and seek Him with all their heart.” (Psalm 119:1-2) How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to your Word. I will seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your Word in my heart that I might not sin against you. Praise be to You, Lord; teach me your decrees. With my lips I recount all the laws that come from your mouth. I rejoice in following your statues as one rejoices in great riches. I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways. I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your Word” (Psalm 119: 9-16)    

Approach To Prayer 

Another difference between a believer with worldly influence and a Christian is their attitude in approaching God in prayer. The Bible records the life of a man named Cornelius, he was a “devout man who… prayed continually to God.” (Acts 10:2)  Christians are called to “pray without ceasing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17)    “The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of this world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God and we take captive very thought to make it obedient to Christ.” ( 2 Corinthians 10:4-5)  Corrie Ten Boom asked, “Is prayer your steering wheel or your spare tire?” The most disciplined people are Christians who stay focused on surrendered prayer. They pray like Christ did, “Not my will but yours be done.” People who believe in God give Him His marching orders, Christians seek the Lord in prayer for their marching orders. Nothing wrong with taking God at His word, let us not use His Word to try to manipulate Him.

The Handling of God’s Word

Another difference between a believer and a Christian is there handling and response to the written Word. Simon Peter warns us to watch out for those who distort Scripture to their own destruction. (2 Peter 3:16)  Christians want to know what God’s Word says as it is written within the context it was written in.  Peter says people who will twist the Scriptures are ignorant and unstable – meaning they lack Holy Spirit enlightenment and illumination.  They may have teaching from the best Bible schools in the world, they just rely upon their own ability to study. This is why there are false teaching in the world today.  It is hard to believe that there are denominations who are embracing people in ministry who embrace lifestyles that break the heart of God.  The Bible warns us, there will be people who will surround themselves with teachers who will tell them what their itching ears want to hear. (2 Timothy 4:3) Peter tells us, “…There were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They secretly introduce destructive heresies… There is a popular TV series that uses Scripture to promote the lifestyle of having more than one wife.  Christians claim the teachings of Jesus, “’Haven’t you read,’ he replied, ‘that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.”  (Matthew 19:4)  

Willingness to Suffer for Christ

Another difference between a believer and a Christian is their willingness to suffer for the cause of Christ. The Bible says, “…Those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.” (1 Peter 4:19) “Rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the suffering of Christ, so you may be overjoyed when His glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of God rest on you.” (1 Peter 4: 13-14)

In an article written by Megan Briggs, titled, Canadian Clergy to Franklin Graham: we read, “The Billy Graham Evangelical Association’s (BGEA) Festival of Hope…  in Vancouver, Canada. On the docket is a gospel message to be given by Franklin Graham. Last week, clergy representing 60 percent of the 1 million Christians in the progressive city asked Graham not to come to his own event. On Friday, February 24, 2017, the leaders issued a public letter expressing their concerns over Graham headlining the event. The reason: Evangelical, Catholic and mainline Protestant leaders were already compiling their concerns when the mayor of Vancouver, Gregor Robertson, approached them in February to discuss the security threat Graham represented. According to the letter released by the clergy, Robertson and the Vancouver Police Department perceived Graham’s appearance as potentially inciting violence.  In their letter, the clergy articulate the thrust of their concern over Graham’s appearance at the Festival in this way: ‘Our concern is that the contentious and confrontational political and social rhetoric that Mr. Graham has used has the potential to overshadow the message of Jesus and incite hostility in our highly charged social climate.’ And, more pointedly: ‘Regrettably, Franklin Graham’s public comments appear to compromise Jesus’ mission of love and justice for all.”’

Life Application: If we think that this is only a problem in Canada, we need to get on face-book and share God’s view on the issues Americans face today.  I am afraid we will see our friends list drop – we will find ourselves blocked by many.

Ownership vs. Biblical Stewardship

Another difference between believers with an worldly influence and Christians is their view on the things they own. Whenever you hear of someone saying “my this” or “my that” you hear the reflection of someone who has no clue about God’s ownership of everything. The worldly view that we own it is proven wrong at the moment people physically die. If it was theirs they would have taken it with them, not leaving it here for someone else to have stewardship over it for a season of their lives.  In Acts 17:24 we read that “God made the world and everything in it.”  The Psalm of David says, “The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.” Christian stewardship entails the responsibility of investing whatever time, talents and possessions God has given them for the purpose for His glory, governed by the fact they will give a full accounting.  (AMG Bible Illustrations. (2000). Chattanooga: AMG Publishers)  Christians know that their finance are gift from Him, on which there will be an accounting. Christians know that every living creature they have charge over belongs to the Lord, of which there will be an accounting.  They know their Spiritual gifts, talents, skills and open door of opportunities are given by His hands, of which they will give an accounting. For example your pets or livestock. Ownership gives you the idea that it is yours, what you do with them is your business, the consequences of your actions will have no effect on you. However, when you approach the tending of God’s creatures and livestock as belonging to Him, you know there will be a day He will demand an accounting and there will be eternal consequences, curses or blessing will be handed out governed by His control.  A Biblical view puts a different perspective on things.

Life Application: There will be a day of judgment. The Bibles says, “just as it is appointed to man to die once and after that comes judgment.” (Hebrews 9:27) Do you approach everything you have as being given to you by God? Thus there will be a day of accounting, even the very words you speak, there will be the day of accountability and judgment.

Faithfulness Under the Pressure of Culture

Another difference between a believer and a Christian is their faithfulness to God under the conflict of the pressure of culture.  The Bible teaches about three faithful men of God, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. They were men who would not serve the gods of Nebuchadnezzar nor would they bow and worship his image. When they were called to give an account, their response is worth taking to heart, “…we have no need to answer you in this matter. Our God is able to deliver us out of your burning fiery furnace and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king.” (Daniel 3: 17)  Which God did – and God did it in such a way that King Nebuchadnezzar saw His deliverance.  Listen to the king’s words, “Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who sent His angel and rescued His servants. They trusted in Him and defied the king’s command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God.”  (Daniel 3: 28)  Remember Daniel, he refused the government decree of not praying to His God, he went and prayed openly for all to see. Daniel was thrown into the lion’s den and God rescued him from the mouths of the lions. (Daniel 6)   Remember Steven, the New Testament deacon who defied the culture of His day and publicly preached Christ, of which he stoned to death for.  The Bible says, “Steven was full of the Holy Spirit, he looked to heaven and saw Jesus standing at the right hand of God.”

Life Application: Sadly there are modern day ministries who have fallen to the pressure of the culture around them.  They have chosen to not to speak against certain sins so they can continue to do ministry in certain countries.  Do we have the courage of Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, Daniel and Steven? Will we be seen as a ministry that calls sin, sin and proclaim God’s righteousness as the way we should live by?

The Way You Bear Witness for Christ

Another deference between a believer and a Christian is the way they bear witness of their faith in Christ. Listen carefully to the Great Commission, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, – Please take note of this last part of the commission, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28: 18-20)  Many will speak of their church building, the times of their church services and even the pastor of their church.  It is those who speak about the Christ who died for them, the Christ who can deliver sinners from bondage and equip the saints for sacrificial service, they are the ones who are enabled to see their calling for the Lord through to a healthy completion.

Saul, before he became the Apostle Paul, was very committed to the Jewish religion.  Saul under the authority of the Sanhedrin persecuted the church of Christ. Once he repented, received Christ and his commission, his focus was not on planting a religious church governed by dead religion, but the church for Jesus Christ filled with people exercising Holy Spirit gifts.  His focus was on teaching the truths that Jesus taught, a life walking in step with the Holy Spirit of Christ and a church of which Jesus is changing people for His Fathers glory.  A young man sold out for the work God was asked, “Do you love people?”  His answer, “I love people so much, I do not want to stay the same, but changed for the Lord’s glory.” Our call is not church membership, but disciples of Christ. A disciple of Christ is a person in whom Christ indwells through the Holy Spirit of Christ.

Knowing About vs. Knowing Christ

Lastly, there is a difference between knowing about Jesus and knowing Jesus. The Apostle Paul’s prayer, “I keep asking that the God of our Lord, Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation.” (Ephesians 1: 17)   “I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:16-19)

To know (ginṓskō) the Son, means to strive to live the life Christ lived before God, His Father. Zodhiates, S. (2000). The complete word study dictionary: New Testament (electronic ed.). Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers.  In 1 John we read, “We know that we have come to know Him if we obey His commands. Whoever says, ‘I know Him,’ but does not do what He commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. But if anyone obeys His Word, love for God is truly made complete in them. …Whoever claims to live in Him must live as Jesus did” (1 John 2:3-6)

Over the many years of working as a master farrier in the Arabian Horse business, I shod horses for Wayne Newton, Meadow Lark Lemon and Kenny Rogers.  I knew of them, but I did not know them.  I watched a great supper bowl game this year, I know about the quarter-backs, but I did not know them. My wife knows me! She knows when something is not right, when I am upset, depressed, or when I am happy, confident and Biblically Holy Spirit driven.  When I am upset, she patiently pries until she gets it out of me. When  I am hurting, she does whatever it takes to comfort me.  When the Lord is leading me she can just sense it, because she knows me, she asked “I can I do to help?” Pennie knows what upsets me and how I am going to respond in certain situations. I give her full permission to correct me.

Life Application: Do you know when Christ is upset with you? Do you know beyond a shadow of a doubt if is He is going to bless or chastise you for what you have done? Do you make it a point to be aware the presence of His Holy Spirit, surrendering to His will for you?  Have you given Him permission to correct you?  Are you hungry for the Lord’s presence, guidance, and enablement?

In closing: People who are inexperience in the things of the Lord may think, “Hey, religion is religion, right?” The Bible says we should examine [ourselves] to see whether [we] are in the faith, test [ourselves]. Do we live like Jesus Christ is in [us]? Unless indeed [we] fail to meet the test.” (2 Corinthians 13:5)     To be able to say that we past the test enables us to walk in faith that God will never leave us nor forsake us. He will be with us always and we need not continue to listen to the lies of the devil, whose desire is to destroy our faith in Christ. Testing our spiritual hearts with the truths found in this message enables us to drive on the high road God wants us on, riding on good quality tires, spiritual truths to live by in this world’s traffic system.