Seven-Fold Christian Living
The theme of the scriptures is this, a person comes to realize his need for forgiveness and repents (Acts 2:37, Acts 16:30). He then turns to God for salvation (Matthew 19:16), and God receives him (Matthew 7:7-8, Romans 10:13). This same man must obey the gospel to enter the kingdom of God. Jesus said in Matthew 7:21, "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,í shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven."
Jesus also said, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God." And when asked, "Sirs," or, "brethren what shall we do?" The apostles always had an answer. Therefore, we can gather that there is a certain thing called the "plan of salvation" in which one must partake in order to be a part of God's kingdom. This "plan of salvation" according to scripture is as follows: "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." -Acts 2:38
Now if one obeys the gospel he has access to God's "throne of grace" through faith and obedience because the blood sacrifice of the Lord Jesus has transformed this unclean sinner into the very "righteousness of God." (Hebrews 4:14-16, Romans 3:22, II Corinthians 5:21)
Now the idea that once a man is saved, that is, he has come to Christ, then that man has done all he needs to inherit eternal life, and he just goes about his life minding his own business, living not very differently than before, this stems from the 'Unconditional Eternal Security' doctrine and is in opposition to what the bible teaches. The scriptures instruct us to bear fruit worthy of righteousness and to let our good works testify of our salvation (John 15:8, Galatians 5:22, Acts26:20, I Timothy 6:18, Titus 2:7, James 2:14, 24). Jesus said, "If you love me, keep my commandments." -John 14:15
"And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing." -I Corinthians 13:2
"However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all long-suffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life." -I Timothy 1:16
"And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire." -Matthew 3:10
"For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself, His own special people, zealous for good works." -Titus 2:11-14
Now you see that we are called to LIVE for God and WALK in our salvation. There are things in a Christian's life that can keep him from doing this. A Christian may allow certain evil spirits or ungodly practices that were in his life prior to his conversion to remain in his life rather than renouncing them and breaking free from the ways of this world as Paul admonishes in Romans 12:2 saying, "And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God."
The apostle Peter warns us to, "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour." -I Peter 5:8.
So then, we see that a Christian is called by Jesus Christ to be a holy and upright man of God (Ephesians 5:27, I Peter 1:16, Matthew 5:48). This is a drastic change from being a sinner to being perfectly mature in the Lord. This doesn't happen instantly or overnight, but the Lord works in His disciples to strengthen their faith and stimulate growth leading to maturity and perfection. Let us consider the words of I Peter 4:12-14, "Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ's sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified."
We see that the purpose of trials is to try us, and that we are not to "think it strange." Trials are an important part of the Christian experience. For, "many are the afflictions of the righteous" (Psalm 34:19), and "we must through much tribulation enter the Kingdom of God" (Acts). We also see that through our sufferings we are working with Christ. Following in His footsteps, we shall also be rewarded with Him, and God is glorified through it all. Let us consider the words of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself: "He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad." -Matthew 12:30 Let us also consider: "My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; For whom the Lord loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives. If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons." -Hebrews 12:5-8
Just as an earthly father with his son, God chastens His children whom he loves (Revelation 3:19) in order to correct them and bring them to the point of maturity. The very word 'discipline' means 'to disciple.' If God did not love His children He would just let them sit idly by and allow them to continue in their old ways. If someone is an idle Christian it is not God's fault but his own for not seeking deliverance from Satanís oppression and from the ways of this world. We as Christians have a responsibility to LIVE our new life in Christ Jesus just as He Himself would if He were in our place. As was King David's this should be our attitude: "As for me, I will see Your face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied when I awake in Your likeness." -Psalm 17:15
All too often some or even all of these things are lacking in the life of the professing or, even more sadly, the true Christian. The absence of any one of these above-mentioned items may cause one to doubt his salvation or hinder his walk with God. Many times it can be a personal attack from the devil on a believer to prevent him from growing and maturing in the Lord. The way to prevent this from happening is to get into the Word of God- read it and meditate on it.
Once someone becomes a Christian, they need to ask the question, of themselves, God, and other Christians, "Okay now what?" They must at least learn from Scripture that they need to be doing something if they don't already know. It is every Christian's responsibility to teach new converts concerning these things. Many times we fail at that. This ought not to be so. If we simply get into God's Word and let it be our life's compass, it will guide us down this path of faith and good works. It will lead us to maturity by the Holy Spirit within us. Unfortunately, many times a Christian forgets to let the Lord be his teacher. Therefore he doesn't learn. Instead of running the race he stops dead in his tracks or takes his place on the sofa eating chips and watching TV, just as he did before his conversion. Let that man awaken himself and judge himself whether or not he is truly saved. "For if we would judge ourselves we will not be judged" (Bible) but found innocent according to the level whereby we have judged ourselves accurately.
Now concerning his conversion experience, if he before repented, was baptized in water in the name of Jesus Christ, and received the gift of the Holy Spirit, then he was truly "born again" (John 3:3-5). Remaining in or returning to his old ways, one might wonder whether he truly repented. Maybe yes, maybe no. God knows, but he need not be re-baptized but only to repent and confess his sins as we see in Acts 8:22 and I John 1:9.
Every Christian needs to realize that salvation is a WALK and Christianity is a WAY OF LIFE. If we do not live as disciples then are we truly disciples? You be the judge. Remember the words of our great Lord and Savior: "He who endures to the end shall be saved." -Matthew 24:13
Amen, let us endure.
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