“And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.” 2nd Corinthains 5:15
“Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” Matthew 7:13-23
We spent a couple of weeks going over what is means to be an example of Christ. To Christians it was exhorted to not only be a witness, by means of an example, but also to do the work that the Lord has called us to do. Now let’s take a look at another problem that is I believe is larger than a lot of people imagine. Not all who call themselves Christians are Christians (Ro. 9:6). In doing so, we are going to let all caution be exercised, knowing that there are Believers from babes in Christ (1 Pet. 2:1-2) to mature Christians (Eph. 4:13, Mt. 13:23). Also there are Believers who are carnal (1 Cor. 3:1-3) and backslidden (Lk. 15:12-24). So we are not the judge of these matters (James 4:11-12), but God knows the heart (Jer. 17:10) and He knows who are His (2 Tim. 2:19). Nonetheless, let us understand that there are many who call themselves Christians who are not Christians.
“Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field: But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares? He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.” Matthew 13:24-30
“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?” 2nd Corinthians 13:5
We have the obvious false churches out there. Just as we can be certain that the Islamic religion is a false doctrine, we can be just as assured that many of the cults, under various denominations are false doctrines. Then we have so-called mainstream ‘christian’ churches, which include the Roman Catholics, the mega churches and numerous other large denominations throughout the world, which are inevitably full of those who are not truly Saved. Then do not preach the true Gospel and often use a works based Salvation message, of which there is no fruit worthy whatsoever. Without someone repenting and by faith believing into Jesus Christ as their Savior, there is no Salvation, their name is not written in the Book of Life. So basically where there is no preaching of the Gospel, there is not likely to be any Salvation, nonetheless God knows the hearts and there are those here and there that can be Saved from amongst such false churches, not by the deeds of the church, but by the Word of God.
“So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.” Isaiah 55:11
“And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13
Truly those who are Saved, those who are truly Christians, should behave as such. While certainly there are those who are carnal or backslidden and are really Christians, we have a huge problem in this country where the vast majority of so-called Christians who fill the pews of churches in the United States are not even Saved. Week after week or time after time, pastors will shake their head in wonderment at why they just can’t get their congregations to read their Bible, to spend time in prayer, let alone even showing up to church most of the time. What they fail to recognize is that ducks quack and Christians walk the Christian walk. Sure there are some who do better than others and we are not to do the ‘weeding’, Christ will take care of that at His appearing (Titus 2:13).
I started writing this article regarding this huge dilemma that faces our so-called Christian churches all over the United States. Indeed there are true Christians in many biblical congregations, but any honest pastor can tell you that many who profess to be Christians certainly don’t act like it. I admonished those who are true Believers to begin to behave as they should and be an example. For why must the pastor have to spend time and time again handing out ‘milk’ and the rest of the congregation who should be growing in Christ, partially through godly messages from the pastor, are sitting there week after week listening to basic precept reminders. What I did not address was the fact that many of those who call themselves Christians are simply not Christians at all. They are unsaved, they are still dead in their sins, their names are not written in the Book of Life (Rev. 20:12). Ducks quack, likewise they behave as one would expect them to behave. Do you really expect those who don’t truly know Christ to be head over heels in doing His work, with their behavior as would be expected?
At this point I had to do some more searching of the Holy Scriptures, taking a look at some writings from trusted pastors, to try and put my finger on what exactly is taking place here. Why are things the way they are, what is going on?
I spent a few days scouring over some things that I had researched out prior, but also expanded a further breakdown of methods being used to train preachers and other Christians in seminary schools. I had to take a look at historic terminology that was used by those preaching the Gospel, as well as the terminology and definitions of that terminology that is used nowadays. Here I discovered many errors that appears to lead to many false professions of faith. I could devolve from this but I will place this link here to a great book by Brother Cloud, that breaks it down. To sum it up, both repentance towards God and faith in Jesus Christ must be preached, the whole Gospel and from biblical definitions of both.
“And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.” Acts 17:30-31
“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9
“I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.” Luke 13:3-5
“And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” Luke 24:47
“Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” Acts 2:37-41
“Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.” Acts 3:19
“When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.” Acts 11:18
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.” John 3:16-21
The point here is realizing that indeed not all who profess to be Christians are Christians. One reason why we have so many Believers who are not being examples of Christ, as they should, is simply because they are not Believers. Jesus talks about the ‘few’ (Mt. 7:14), so we must remember that there are also those who think they are doing the work of Christ, but are not. Take a look at the opening passage of Scripture from Matthew.
So what are we to do as Christians who are surrounded by those who are not behaving as Christians ought to? Well certainly I will assert here that we are not the ones who do the weeding, the Bible is quite clear on that. We are not the ones to sit there are say that so-n-so is a Christian or not. Quite frankly there are true Christians who do not behave as they should, likewise there can be wolves amongst us who seemingly are Saved, we simply can not always know. What as Christians we should do is to follow Christ (John 21:22).
“For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.” 2nd Corinthians 11:13-15
“They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate.” Titus 1:16
“Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.” Acts 20:28-31
“And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it. For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away? For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father’s, and of the holy angels.” Luke 9:23-26
One of the biggest errors that I think a mixed multitude brings about is carnality amongst even those who are Christians. Let me explain this, as I think it is very important.
“Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners. Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame.” 1st Corinthians 15:33-34
We are surrounded by temptations in the modern world that we live in. Now temptations have always been around, there has been sin since the garden of Eden (Gen. 3), we know this. However, we are surrounded by a cloud of witness of those who disobey God that is very great. Even turning of PBS not too long ago, I was shocked to see a documentary on transgenderism of young girls, turning to another PBS channel, the same sort of thing was on. Even amongst the evil that we have that we have in this society, the average Christian is not going to be ignorant of the television shows, the movies, the music, the entertainment and if one can pull themselves to see the great wickedness that abounds, the opening blatantly pagan festivities that surround us during this time of year, with the helloween celebrations. Yet in our churches we should experience the cloud of witness of Christ.
“Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1-2
When we are even bombarded with those who refuse to adherently follow Christ, with those who ‘know they should, but still don’t anyway’, with the carnality that is rampant, than what can we do? When a Christian rightfully goes to a biblical church to hear the Word of God preached, for the assembly of Believers and they are surrounded by a lukewarm church, please take heed! You follow Christ, you do what is right. This is not suggesting that you walk out the door, but rather you ignore what others are doing and you be the example that you know you should!
“But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.” James 1:22
Rather I am afraid that this type of carnality and sinful behavior, even amongst true Believers, is part to blame for not realizing that there are tares and perhaps many tares amongst ourselves in our churches. This is not new.
“They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.” 1st John 2:19
How much easier is it for the tares to remain, when the world begins to creep into the churches? How much easier is it for Christians who are surrounded by Christians to use them as an example of behavior, excusing their own actions? Here is where I go to the main point.
How many Christians, true Christians who have repented and by faith accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior, allow themselves to tread water or barely press forward because of the corrupt communication? Instead of measuring themselves up to men and women who are godly examples of what it is to be a Christian, they are measuring themselves up to people who they assume to be Christians or are even Christians who are doing the same, and in that regard they simply can say I am better than that!
Think about this for a minute. If a pastor talks about how Christians rarely read their Bible, then can a Believer use that as an example for their own lives and legitimize, that while they should read their Bible daily or nearly daily, that at least they read it once a week or so, so that is better than those! How about a discussion on the importance of prayer, when the Believer finds out that others who call themselves Christians nearly never pray, even if they hear the exhortation to prayer daily or more often, they can justify themselves by the examples of the others who proclaim to be Christians, by knowing that they at least pray from time to time!
Let’s not stop there, for I truly believe these often false examples of Christians, who just as ducks quack, behave as unsaved, though professing the opposite, are pulling down the strength of the biblical church. As Believers or so-called believers fellowship amongst themselves, how easy is it to justify watching certain television programs that they know are not God honoring, because they know that others whom they fellowship within the church are watching absolute garbage that would make their shows pale in comparison?! The same could be said with heart based standards of Christian dress, or daily conversations, habits, witnessing, testimony, participation in church activities, just fill in the blank!
“Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil”… Exodus 23:2a
This is very serious. So what to do. Well first and foremost the realization that the full Gospel needs to be preached is a good start. For of what value is it to profess even a tad bit watered down Gospel, when it yields a high percentage of Christians who obviously don’t act like Christians. Ducks quack. The second is to understand that we will all appear before the Judgment Seat of Christ (2 Cor. 5:10). The third thing to understand, and this is where the first two articles in this series touched on, is to realize that we are called to be holy and separate, serving Christ with all of our heart. Finally we must realize that we are to follow God individually.
“But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.” 1st Peter 1:15-16
“Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” 2nd Corinthians 6:14-18
“So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.” Romans 14:12
Why not make another Believer feel convicted with your godly living? I say this not by being judgmental, but by being the example that Christ expect you to be. What I mean is just as a Christian in a workplace can have a testimony as being ‘different’ and a ‘Believer’, even without once preaching Christ to their coworkers, so to can a Believer have a testimony to other Believers in the church regarding holy living. Certainly just as Christians often talk about knowing that they need to ‘do this’ or ‘that’, as you likely know if you are one of them, so too, imagine if a church was largely of that sort, who would not receive a reprimand like Paul gave to the Corinthians, in the first letter. Just how much fruit would not only Christians bear, but the church as a whole!
“Wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you: Who shall give account to him that is ready to judge the quick and the dead. For for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.” 1st Peter 4:4-6
So, God has given me this task of All Will Stand, but I know that if I were a pastor of a church that had these problems, I would heavily contemplate talking to a foreign church in a country where there was serious persecutions. In America, I know that we forgot how easy it is to be a Christian and without much persecution, at the moment, except name calling, really we just don’t have experience with such things. We still have the same edifications to live holy and pure lives in Christ, but in other countries. Why would I contemplate talking to a foreign church? Simply this, I assure that the amount of false christians in biblical churches are much lower than the United States. Who would want to proclaim the name of Christ and suffer a great deal of persecution, without having truly being born again?
Imagine contacting a church in India, a true church, and getting someone who was bilingual with English, a Christian, and bringing in just a regular Christian who was a good example in that church. Now in America we often look at our pastors as the example of behaving as Christ, at least close to it. To see the ‘average’ Christian who could tell stories of their family being persecuted, being banned from speaking to their family, beatings, oppressions and how they stay strong in Christ, should be enough to strike shame in the hearts of those who know that they should be wholeheartedly following Christ and don’t because they are afraid of what their coworkers will say. Or maybe they don’t want their family to be rude to them, or they don’t want to be called names. Likewise, just simply reading the Bible and seeing the persecution of Paul and the other apostles, should be a strong example of what it means to truly follow Christ, at least when it comes to the heart.
“Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.” Matthew 22:37
In America a lot of people call themselves Christians, but they are not. Just as ducks quack, they are only doing what is natural to do. Just how much responsibility does the church have in telling these people that they are Christians, when all they did is pray a prayer? Does not God provide the assurance to those who are His? (Ro. 8:16; Gal. 4:6; 1 John 5:10) How many times do we push people into salesmanship tactics, hoping and thinking that just because they repeat a few words they are now Christians? Does not God know the heart, does not His Spirit cause conviction of sin of which equates to godly repentance (2 Tim. 2:25), when then a Believer realizes their guilt (Ro. 3:23), realizes that they are deserving of Hell (Ro. 6:23) and calls out to God to Save them (Ac. 16:30), believing into Jesus Christ (Ac. 16:31) who is the Son of God (1 John 4:15), died on the Cross for their sins (Ro. 4:25) and rose again from the dead (Mt. 28:6), where He sits at the right hand of the Father (Ro. 8:34)?
“Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.” Acts 20:21
“For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death. For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter.” 2nd Corinthians 7:9-11
Certainly we don’t do the weeding, but what we can do is ensure that we are examples. However, it is good to know that not all who call themselves are Christians. We will all stand before God individually and give an account to Him about our actions (Ro. 14:12). You follow Christ, don’t worry about what others are doing, be an example.
“In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.” 2nd Timothy 2:25-26