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Thursday, November 06, 2014

Judgment and Discernment

“This is a Christian country. I go to a Christian church. I believe in God and the Bible, so what right have you to judge me and tell me I’m not a Christian?” 
A question like this must be handled with care. It is certainly possible to conclude from a person’s life and actions that they are not living in a Christlike way; it may be discerned and pointed out that their beliefs about salvation and the Christian life are not in harmony with what the Bible teaches. But ultimately the question of whether a person is a ‘real’ Christian or not can be answered only by God, or in the case of a genuine child of God, by the individual believer.

Those who lack saving faith may not even be fully aware of it themselves.

In Matthew 13:24-30 Christ tells a parable about weeds growing up in a field of wheat. These weeds look exactly like wheat as they mature, and the farmer must wait until the harvest to tell the two apart. In the same way, only God is fully able to tell the difference between real believers and those who only pretend to belong to Him. The “harvest time” when He will make that distinction clear to all is the Day of Judgment. Our human powers of observation are limited, so until that day, we cannot presume to be certain about who is truly saved and who is not. We can only be sure of our own relationship with God.

We can, however, examine the scripture to make sure we know what a Christian is.

The Bible says that believing in God does not make a person a Christian. “You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that — and shudder”. It is not enough to simply believe that a God exists, or even to believe that He is the God described in Scripture. If we truly believe in God, we must listen to what He says and do His will. “For My Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in Him shall have eternal life, and I will raise Him up at the last day”.

Salvation is found only through faith in Jesus Christ, not by church attendance or good works.

Although some people have been taught or brought up to believe that Christianity is a matter of culture or church affiliation, the Bible — and indeed Christ Himself — clearly teaches otherwise.

RJA

Republished by permission

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