What Kind of Christian are You?

what

An interesting idea passed through my reading list this week. The comment was that each person, denomination, tradition, or opinion sees God and scripture in their own image. The challenge the person put forth is that everyone reads into the scripture their own “interpretation” and there is no actual single Christian view of things. While true that different Christian traditions might form church government and worship services differently. And some traditions may disagree on some minor aspects of what is most important. What is not true is that a right “interpretation” of scripture is impossible to know. The reality is that most misunderstandings are basically ignorance because so few people spend time reading with their heart open to hear from God. Other wrong “interpretations” are based on purposeful manipulation out of a desire for something other than God. Jesus assumed that his teachings would be remembered and understood by those that followed him and Jesus is never wrong so we can know exactly what is true.

26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. John 14:26 ESV

And this is where the church comes in. If the leadership and those teaching are following Christ (not their own selfish ambitions) then they can guide parishioners on how to read and understand what Jesus taught.

Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. James 3:1 ESV

Christianity also uniquely has the source text in Greek and Hebrew that any lay person can learn to read if they are so inclined. Even that is not necessary because of access to modern translations of nearly original letters. The apostles encouraged the churches to search these texts to confirm what they taught was true.

10 The brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived they went into the Jewish synagogue. 11 Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. Acts 17:10-11 ESV

God is true and so all his words, actions, and calls in our life must be consistent with Himself. The Bible is that consistency given to humankind. God will never ask something of someone that a) he was has not already done himself and b) is contrary to his very nature. Scripture then is a baseline that even the greatest Christian teacher must work from. One well known Bible teacher once wrote that followers of Christ must teach and believe what the Bible states as true not what we want the Bible to say is true. I may not like or understand everything but that does not diminish God that only proves my lack of understanding in all things. God has the entire picture and he has proven himself trustworthy.

The last Chapter of Hebrews is the closing of the letter and the author runs through a liturgy of sorts that when lived out mark a Christian in this world. What kind of Christian are you? If you can’t say yes to everything in this list then you may want to reevaluate what kind of Christian you have been.

Let brotherly love continue. 2 Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. 3 Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body. Hebrews 13:1-3 ESV

I agree in the Affirmative: Christians must not be self-seeking but be servants to those in need. Do you love your brothers and sisters in Christ? Are you ready to show hospitality to strangers in need? Do you remember and pray for Christians in prison or those mistreated because they are Christian? This is the type of person that Jesus has called you to be.

4 Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous. Hebrews 13:4 ESV

I agree in the Affirmative: God did not create man and woman to be sexually promiscuous. He created man and woman to love each other and to honor the marriage bed. If you are living with someone outside of marriage, if you are having an affair, if you are a consumer of porn or lustful images of any kind, or you believe that whatever your preferences are regarding sex are more important than God’s perfect standards then you are not living the life that Jesus has called you to live. Make this right with God there is no other way.

5 Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” 6 So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?” 16 Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God. Hebrews 13:5-6; 16 ESV

I agree in the Affirmative: God never promises to make men rich. God does however promise that he will provide our daily bread. Do not fear living with limited money. The Lord is our helper and His resources are endless. If you do have anything be ready to share sacrificially because this pleases God. The type of person that Jesus called you to be is the person who is not in love with money and stuff.

7 Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith. 8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. 9 Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings, for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, which have not benefited those devoted to them. 17 Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you. Hebrews 13:7-9; 17 ESV

I agree in the Affirmative: God has called each Christian to serve and live within a Church that honors His word. Submit to the leaders of this church and look to their example to imitate. Confirm their example by finding it written about in the Bible. The leadership in your church has been given to you by God and they are accountable to God if they teach what is not true. Do not complain about the Church leadership but make their job a joy (remember they are only men and women like yourself). If you are not in a church or if you are not attending a physical church with real relationships then you are not following the desires of Christ. Jesus is a relational Creator and he never desires for his followers to operate in isolation.

18 Pray for us, for we are sure that we have a clear conscience, desiring to act honorably in all things. Hebrews 13:18 ESV

I agree in the Affirmative: Followers of Christ act honorably in ALL things. These standards of God are not negotiable. He has saved us and he has died in our stead so we can live. Do you love Jesus, then in obedience set your dead self aside and find life that can only come from Christ.

What kind of Christian are you? If you are not answering affirmatively to the above with a desire to live it out real time then the answer to the question of what kind of Christian are you is either not at all or not much of one. Harsh I know. Sometimes the truth hurts but God has plainly laid out his standards even the parts we may not like.

1 Corinthians 4:1-2 | Jesus will not Tolerate Mutiny

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What makes a Christian? Western Government and non-Government institutions are busy purging Christianity from the public square and from the history books. Mainline denominations are trying to modify Christianity to align with the new moral standards that are acceptable to western society. And then there are some religious organizations that want to claim the mantel of Christianity but have not historically been associated as Christian. So what makes a Christian Christian? Can an individual define Christian to be anything or can Christianity be modified to be acceptable in polite society?

This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. 2 Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful. 1 Corinthians 4:1-2 ESV

Paul identifies who a Christian should be in addressing conflicts within the Corinthian church. The church was dividing into political camps with one group following one leader and another group following another. Paul tells the church that this is how they should approach being Christians. Christians should be “servants” and “stewards of the mysteries” moreover they must be found faithful to that role and that stewardship.

First we can take a look at “servant” and the obvious question is servant to whom? The government? Media approval? Who should a Christian, identified by a name that by definition should be a follower of Christ, be servant to? The simple answer from Paul is Jesus Christ. Paul is a servant to Christ but this is more than a simple servant cleaning toilets. Paul is an officer of Christ commissioned to serve not unlike a commander in military or law enforcement. Paul as a follower of Christ is not just watching from the sideline listening to the wonderful speaker on Sunday morning. Paul is actively involved organizing, training, executing orders on behalf of Jesus. Here this same word translated servant in Paul’s letter is translated officer in the Gospel of John to identify the law enforcement servants that report to the High Priest.

So the band of soldiers and their captain and the officers of the Jews arrested Jesus and bound him. John 18:12 ESV

Who did the officers serve? The High Priest of the Jews. They were bound to carry out those orders and they were bound to serve in an official capacity. The officers are not the decision makers on the need to arrest Jesus but they did know how to arrest him and what was necessary to carry out their orders when the time came. What if the officers serving the High Priest rejected the plain training and expectations of their role? Could they rightly be called officers of the Jews? Not for very long.

The second identifier that Paul used is “stewards of the mysteries” of God. Now this is an intriguing description. Much has been read into this and because Paul in his letters frequently speaks of “mysteries”. Some scholars have called Paul a “mystic” because of this. A mystic is someone who turns inwardly or receives inwardly some mystical revelation that could not have been divined in any other way. For example when someone says God told them to do it that could be viewed as a mystical revelation.

Christianity is not a mystical religion because Jesus the defacto leader had His words and teaching recorded. Any revelation an individual receives must be consistent and aligned with the entire recorded teaching of God and that is found in the Bible. Paul however as an apostle in that first generation did receive additional information from the resurrected Christ. For example Paul says that Christ revealed through the Holy Spirit the new order that all men not just the Jews are “partakers of the promise” which is the gospel of Jesus Christ

For this reason I, Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles— 2 assuming that you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace that was given to me for you, 3 how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly. 4 When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, 5 which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. 6 This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel. Ephesians 3:1-6 ESV

Because of this some scholars have dismissed Paul as creating his own version of Christianity separate from the Disciples of Christ. However Peter a leader of those disciples accepted Paul as a peer and acknowledged His ministry to the Gentiles. Paul and Peter would have received consistent instructions and were in agreement that those instructions came from Christ.

15 And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him 2 Peter 3:15 ESV

Paul then revealing the gospel of Jesus Christ and being a steward of those mysteries is much more than a servant or even an officer. Paul and Christians who are called by Jesus Christ are managers and caretakers of the ministry while the owner is away. Paul is not the leader that is to be followed any more than Peter or insert your version of the Pope in the modern world. Those servants and stewards to be rightly called Christian must be working directly for Jesus who is present by way of the Holy Spirit.

I have applied all these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, brothers, that you may learn by us not to go beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up in favor of one against another. 1 Corinthians 4:6 ESV

To conclude a Christian then by definition is a commissioned officer and a steward of the gospel message. That gospel is unchanging and contains the facts that Jesus Christ is God in the flesh, born of a virgin, lived a sinless in life, was crucified on my behalf, and was raised to life on the third day thus robbing death of its victory. If this is not who you serve then when that King returns in an unknown hour how will you answer. That you were a faithful steward of the gospel message or that you were not faithful to the gospel because you choose to serve men, governments, and money?

21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Matthew 7:7 ESV