Proclaimers or Followers?

1 John 2:3-11

More than two billion people claim to be or at least consider themselves to be Christians. The person who would like to find out who or what a Christian is and starts asking questions may quickly discover that even those who call themselves Christians are unsure, confused or even wrong in their understanding of their religion or faith.

People say things like:

* I am a Christian because I was born Catholic, Protestant, Eastern Orthodox, Baptist, Pentecostal, etc.

* I am a Christian because I was baptized as a Christian.

* I am a Christian because I go to church regularly.

* I am a Christian because I give to the poor and help people.

It is very clear in the Bible that being born into a religious environment or family, being a member of a Christian church, or claiming to be a Christian does not make one a Christian.

The Bible also makes it very clear that a Christian is the person who responds to God’s invitation, confesses his or her sins to God, repents of his or her sins, receives the Holy Spirit and lives a life that reflects this new change and life by following Christ.

Today, many claim to be Christians but don’t really follow Jesus’ teachings. A true Christian is a person who not only claims to be a follower of Christ, but also lives and reflects Christ in his or her daily life and the evidence is his or her spiritual growth.

Evidence of spiritual growth should include: increasing in knowledge and understanding of God’s Word, decreasing in questionable or sinful activities, increasing in Christ-like qualities and activities, and increasing in faith and trust in God.

The best summary of spiritual growth is “becoming more like Jesus Christ.” In 1 Corinthians 11:1 Paul says: “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.”

In order for spiritual growth to occur, you first need to make sure you have plugged into the power source, through faith in Jesus Christ. In 1 John 5:11-12 we read: “God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.”

Learning how to grow spiritually is a life-long journey that happens as you read and apply God’s Word to your daily life. But we must be willing to be taught, rebuked, corrected and trained by God’s Word. The kind of life a true believer lives is what separates him or her in this corrupt world system.

The true believer’s life should have thee marks:

1. A life of hope (1 Peter 1:3-12)

This world offers no lasting hope. Before we became followers of Christ, we had no hope beyond the grave. We were under the sentence of death, hopelessly lost, but Jesus Christ, in His great mercy, paid the penalty of our sins.

In Ephesians 2:12-13, we read: “Remember that at that time you were separate from Christ” Without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.”

The believer has living hope because he has a living Saviour.

2. A life of holiness (1 Peter 1:13-21)

The blessed hope should compel us live holy lives: “Everyone who has this hope in him purifies, just as he is pure.” (1 John 3:3) Jesus said: “Be Holy, because I am Holy.” (1 Peter 1:16)

“Holy” does not mean sinlessly perfect, a condition impossible in this life. It means set apart, or separated for God. Our lives should reproduce the holy pure character of God. We must make a clean break with the corrupt world system from which Jesus died to save us. We are in the world, but not of the world.

This does not mean that we must isolate ourselves from sinners but, rather, that we must bring the good news to them. Yet in our dealings and relationships with them, we must never share in or condone their sins. We must show by our lives that we are children of God.

Holiness does not mean passive inactiveness, and it does not come easily or naturally. You have to fight for it. In 1 Peter 1:13-15 we read: “Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do.”

Living a holy life is not an option. It is a command! The great need today is for Christians to live separated, holy, dedicated lives for the glory of God. Many Christians are so worldly that their testimony is meaningless. If a profession of faith is not backed up by a corresponding life, it does more harm than good.

3. A life of harmony (1 Peter 1:22-25)

Salvation gives us a living hope , a desire for holiness , and a wonderful fellowship with the people of God. Apostle Peter reminded us that, because we are born into the family of God through Christ, we must love as He loved us.

One of the things this new birth brings into our lives is love! True, unselfish Christian love brings harmony to the church, and to the believers themselves.

King David wrote: “How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity.” (Psalm 133:1) The Bible says that the evidence of our salvation is the love we have toward each other.

Pure, unselfish Christian love does not come naturally; it is not part of our human nature. This love is a special kind of love that comes with the new birth.

People around us will know we are true followers of Christ by our love, not by our words alone. In John 13:34-35 Jesus said: “A new command, I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

The Christian life is a life of hope, holiness and harmony. Only one “or even two of the three” will not do. How is your Christian life and testimony?

Pastor Joseph Hovsepian