Christians Inside and Out

The term “Christian” has overtaken the word “disciple,” and applied to it a meaning the Bible never supports.

In the common Christian vernacular, a person is presumed to be Christian if he attends, or is part of, a Christian congregation. Some ministers believe that. Others go a bit further, believing a “prayer of salvation” does the job. But few, from what I observe, conclude scripturally that to be a disciple of Christ was what was meant by the term, “Christian,” when it was first applied to disciples in Antioch. Yet, scripture shows that “disciple” was the objective Jesus intended.

Jesus did not use the term, “Christian” during His ministry on earth. In fact, in the Great Commission He said, “Go and make disciples.” He said those disciples were to observe everything He taught the first disciples, including to make more disciples. It is easy to garner from the New Testament that there is a huge gap between the lives of the early disciples of Christ and what we believe a Christian can or ought to be today.

For example, Jesus said disciples will love Him far more than we love our closest family members – so much so that our love for them will look like hatred compared with our love for Christ. Further, a disciple will deny himself in order to follow Jesus Christ explicitly, and will forsake all he or she owns for His sake. All of this is revealed in Luke 13.

Every disciple will, by his new nature, obey the first two commandments – loving God with ALL of his being, and loving his neighbors as he loves himself – as the PRIMARY focus of life. That is “Ground Zero” of being a Christian. Until we have achieved that INTENSITY of love for God and Christ, we have not moved beyond the “baby” stage of believing, into genuinely following Jesus Christ.

Paul said of the Jews, “He is not a Jew, which is one outwardlyBut he is a Jew, which is one inwardly.” In another place, he said, “They are not all Israel, which are of Israel,” and “They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God.” The very same thing can be said of “Christians,” so that not all who say “Lord, Lord” are really Christians, according to Jesus. Thus, a gap exists between what many claim and what actually is.

The missing ingredient seems to be the sacrificial nature of true repentance and the subsequent love for Jesus and His Truth that propels us into accepting His life in exchange for our own..

Leaders of congregations have propagated that gap by communicating reliance on a prayer as the sole act of commitment to Christ, ignoring the fervent love, faithfulness, and intentionality of discipleship that scripture actually prescribes.

The Church must see, preach, and teach the transformation of life God expects of genuine sons and daughters who supposedly abandon the natural life for the life of the Spirit. We must awaken to the true transformation the Holy Spirit has been sent to undertake in the lives of believers. How can a person possess the Holy Spirit of God and not be transformed in the outward man? Yet, it happens over and over. Converts leave congregations with a prayer and the expectation that, without any personal guidance and teaching by loving and mature disciples, the new believer will grow over the next thirty or forty years into a mature follower of Jesus.

Meanwhile, the Church is filled with babies knowing little of how to actually follow Christ, lying on the floor where they were converted in expectation that a small dose of pabulum weekly will suffice to grow the babe to adulthood. We should be glad natural babies are not treated so negligently.

It is as though Jesus gave a “Minimal” Commission instead of the “Great” Commission, and that, to “stay” in the building and preach “another gospel” that makes verbal converts who agree with the idea that Jesus is the Son of God and will faithfully sit on a pew once each week with tithe in hand.

You must be a Christian inside – where it counts – before you can ever become a Christian outwardly.

Pat McWhorter operates Grace Warrior Ministries and is the author of several Christian teaching books focused on discipleship and grounding new believers in the faith. He also teaches and assists ministries in Africa and Pakistan with disciple-making efforts.

Is your salvation as sure as you think it is?

Jesus warned us, “Let no man deceive you.” And Paul advised Christians, “Let him that thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.” If you are so confident of your salvation that you do not examine yourself against scripture, you could be in danger of falling away from Jesus Christ. Otherwise, why would such warnings exist in scripture?

2 Corinthians 13:5 says plainly, “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?”

Speaking to professing Christians, Paul was saying that by not examining your own faith, you risk the possibility that you could be reprobate. What does reprobate mean? The Greek word for it is adokimos, meaning rejected, unapproved, or cast away. It is the same word used in Romans 1:28 to refer to certain people who could be turned over to a reprobate mind for refusing to trust God. Further, it is the same word Paul used in 1 Corinthians 9:27 when he said if he did not keep his flesh under control, even after preaching the Gospel to many, he could become a “castaway.”

Many have been deceived by people who tell them if they will just say a prayer they will receive eternal life. That cannot be found in scripture at all. Yes, it is good to pray for salvation, but Jesus said, “He that endures to the end shall be saved.” Endures what? Endures in denying the old life and its urges, endures in the perseverance of faith, forsaking material possessions, and in being led by the Spirit of God. The Bible tells us that anyone who loves any person, including one’s closest relatives, more than he loves Jesus is not worthy of Him. (Matthew 10:37)

I urge you to examine your relationship with Jesus Christ under the bright light of scripture. Do not believe people who say God expects nothing more of you than a prayer. You have been purchased by Jesus – bought with a high price – and you are no longer the one in control of your life IF you are a genuine Christian.

We are in the last days before the return of Jesus Christ, and He is the One who declared, “When the Son of man comes, shall He find faith on the earth?” He remains faithful to His own, but the question is, Will they be faithful to Him?

Examine and judge yourself. Many passages exist that tell us what salvation really looks like. In fact, almost the entire second chapter of the book of 1 John seems to have been written to help us examine ourselves.

How much better to judge yourself while you have time to make adjustments than to wait until Judgment Day!

I urge you to not ignore this message. You have nothing to lose by examining your faith, but you have a great deal to potentially gain.

Pat McWhorter operates Grace Warrior Ministries and is the author of several Christian teaching books focused on discipleship and grounding new believers in the faith. He also teaches discipleship and assists ministries in Africa and Pakistan with disciple-making efforts.

Naked Before God

“Will you give your heart to Jesus?”

That’s what we most often hear from ministers of the gospel – evangelicals, at least. But what we hear from the Spirit of God, if we will listen carefully and diligently, is something very different. It is more on this order:

Will you give Me your mind and its preconceived notions and opinions? And will you give Me your habits, your first and best time, and your secret sins? Will you give Me your ears and eyes, so that your attention is focused on what I want it focused on? Will you give Me your hands? Your feet? Your money? Your talents, abilities, goals, hopes, dreams? Will you give Me your loved ones? Your place in this world? Your destiny, your path in life, your very will, personality, thoughts and emotions?

What we will discover in the process of saying “yes” to God in all of these is that we are naked. As naked as Adam was in the beginning.

We may even realize that we never really had anything of our own, after all. It was all given to us.

Our parents gave us our DNA and much of our personality, values and opinions, and certainly, what we like or dislike about our appearance. They and our acquaintances gave us our resentments, prejudices, habits, and secret sins. Our culture gave us education, fashion and valuations of what would be important in life. And what they gave they borrowed as well. We all simply picked and chose what to keep of the transient in the process of defining ourselves.

God gave us life, grace, faith, love, intelligence, the ability to reason and speak, and everything else that is a good and useful aspect of life.

Paraphrasing Paul, we might ask, “What do I have that I didn’t receive?” Even our will was a gift from God, one that He hopes we will return to Him.

In essence, we are already naked before God, whether we answer yes or no to His requests.

So why do we hold on to all of this as though it actually defined us and gave us value? What’s the point of resisting God’s call to lay it all down?”

Do we really prefer the temporal and trivial above the eternal and priceless? Do we really treasure the approval of a dying and afflicted world over the approval of the One who calls us to eternal life?

Each of us has to answer those questions.

And we do, intentionally or by default.

In these flashes of insight, when the curtain is pulled back and we see the reality of God’s offer before us and how ridiculous our hesitancy is, let us wholeheartedly commit to Him everything – and just as wholeheartedly, ask for His grace to never waver or renege.

Pat McWhorter operates Grace Warrior Ministries and is the author of several Christian teaching books focused on discipleship and grounding new believers in the faith. He also teaches discipleship in Georgia and assists ministries in Africa and Pakistan with disciple-making efforts.

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Call of the Wild

Liberty is a wonderful gift from our Father, but it seems unbridled liberty is the primary identifiable Christian characteristic in the lives of many today. It is as though the unrestrained willfulness of the reckless and unredeemed soul in godless living had been so much a part of their psyches that it missed the call to be crucified with Christ. No doubt Christians might still be tempted to go their own way without regard for the guiding voice of the Holy Spirit, but we ought to be so calmed and content in following His lead that we can easily cast down the temptation to retain the selfish bent of the old unrighteous tree.

Complaining and grumbling, too, are hallmarks of some professing Christians who cannot or will not accept a hint of suffering alongside Jesus Christ in a wasting world. Likewise, the siren call of the wild to return to inbred and unleashed native appetites such as lead the worldly on the broad way to destruction might surely reach our ears, but it is only encouraged by the enemy of our souls when he sees in us a willingness to lean closer to hear it.

The soul might be tempted to acquire or retain many uncharacteristic motives from the worldly life, but the one God has ordained for us is the one that comes only by the denial of self, the taking up of Christ’s cross, and in humbly submitting our purchased lives to His way, truth, and life. That life is identifiable by no less than what is described as agape, the impossible-for-man love that only the Holy Spirit can deliver into our hearts, and then, only at our yearning for it.

Doing whatever we do with agape love and for God’s glory will produce in us peace and patience that allow us to experience joy in the Holy Spirit, and thereby further enable us to walk in the ways of Christ rather than in the flesh.

You and I, as professing followers of Christ, hold the handle of the door that would open to that kind of love for God or keep it shut. Only the memory of and consent to the wild and unholy life we had before Christ, calling to an unresolved will, can prevent the infusion of God’s love from filling us and changing us finally into the image of Christ He ordained for our lives.

We should never forget that God, through our knowledge of His Word and Spirit, has already made available to us everything that pertains to life and godliness. It is ours to receive, if we will be willing and obedient to His call rather than to the call of the deadly wild life.

Pat McWhorter operates Grace Warrior Ministries and is the author of several Christian teaching books focused on discipleship and grounding new believers in the faith. He also teaches discipleship and assists ministries in Africa and Pakistan with disciple-making efforts.

Have You Pledged Allegiance?

America. The greatest country in the world, right?

We have pledged our allegiance to it and its flag, right?

Its anthem can bring tears to our eyes. Its safety and preservation can provoke awe-inspiring heroism and selflessness. Millions have given their lives for the liberty our country has offered.

But for you and me – followers of Jesus Christ – allegiance to America, its flag, and Constitution can be very misplaced.

I love this country. Those of you who know me won’t question my patriotism. I’m a veteran and a loyalist. I believe America was conceived and founded in and with the highest human ideals.

But America is not where our greatest allegiance should be placed.

Your and my love for Jesus Christ must be unrivalled. It should be so far ahead of our love for anything and anyone else that all allegiance outside of that appears to be hatred by comparison. (Read Luke 14:26-27; Matthew 10:37)

We are citizens of a greater entity than America and the world. Our citizenship is in Heaven. We are ambassadors to earth. That is, if we are truly new creations in Christ.

I’ve known Christians who would die for the Constitution, but who would not crucify their flesh of sins Jesus Christ died to forgive, people who would proudly wear the uniform of the U. S. military, but who would disguise their Christian allegiance and character. Who would go to blows with someone for speaking a negative word about America, but who would not so much as move an index finger to shut off a video or TV program in which the name of Jesus Christ is blasphemed. And whose chest would heave at the display of the colors, but whose reserve in worship of the King would not allow the slightest emotion.

America will burn. That’s just a fact, because the entire world will burn. America is “wood, hay and stubble” compared to the Kingdom of God, which stands forever. As much as we love this country, we must remember that it can be an idol if we give it greater reverence and honor than we give our God and the citizenship He purchased for us.

Remember, next time you pledge allegiance to the United States of America, the relative positions of God and country. They are not one and the same, but worlds apart. And the disparities become dramatically clearer as ungodliness in government transforms America into a sad caricature of the country it once was.

Just as our forefathers in the faith “confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth,” we should acknowledge that we, like they, “desire a better country; that is, a heavenly” home, where our true allegiance resides and grows.

How much greater is the land of our new birth than that of the natural! By that great degree should our allegiance be pledged to the city He is preparing for us in eternity!

Thank God for America, but thank Him far more for our heavenly home!

Pat McWhorter operates Grace Warrior Ministries and is the author of several Christian teaching books focused on discipleship and grounding new believers in the faith. He also teaches discipleship and assists ministries in Africa and Pakistan with disciple-making efforts.