Christianity is not a religion. It is a relationship. Many people call themselves Christians these days, but that does not make it so. These people believe that simply following the moral teachings of Christ is what makes them a Christian. Nothing could be farther from the truth. For example, suppose I went down to the Army surplus store and bought a soldier’s uniform. I could dress up in fatigues, helment, carry a rifle and act the part, and call myself a soldier. Would that make me one? Of course not. I have to become a soldier by signing up with a recruiter. Many people act the same way when talking about Christianity. They believe that if they try their best to live a good life according to the teachings of Christianity, that automatically makes them a Christian.
Acts 11:26 tells us that the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch. The disciples were believers. They believed that Jesus Christ was the Son of God and died to pay for the sins of the world. Jesus Himself said in John 3, that a person has to be born again in order to even see the Kingdom of Heaven. It is not our actions which make us a Christian, but whether we believe that Jesus died for our sins.
In Corinthians 15, the apostle Paul tells us it is this believing the Gospel (good news about Jesus) that saves us:
Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures,that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,
It is when we believe in the Christ as our Savior that we are born again- this time into God’s family. Thus Christianity is a relationship we have to God through our faith in Jesus Christ as the payment for our sins. I John 5:1 tells us that whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God. The word “Christ” is simply the Greek word which is the translation for the Hebrew word “Messiah” which means “the annointed one”. Jesus was annointed by God the Father to be the satisfaction for the payment of the sins of the entire world.
The Bible teaches in numerous passages that trying to work your way to Heaven based on living a moral life is doomed to failure. Sadly many people will stand before God at the final judgement hoping to get into Heaven based on their good works in life, only to hear God’s response:
On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ (Matt 7: 22, 23).
With the exception of Christianity, all other religions in the world have one thing in common. That is the belief that people have to work to gain Heaven. (For whatever type of Heaven a particular religion teaches.) Christianity is different from all the rest in that good works will not get you to Heaven or even help you get into Heaven.
In Christianity, all the work necessary to gain our entrance into Heaven has already been done by Jesus Christ. We simply accept that to come into full possession of it. D.L. Moody, the great evangelist of the 19th century was talking to a train engineer one day. The engineer was a religious man from a different religion. Moody told him:
There is not much difference between your religion and mine…just two little letters.
The train engineer looked at him and asked for an explanation.
Moody replied, “You spell your religion ‘do’. In other words, you believe if you do enough you’ll go to Heaven. My religion, on the other hand, is spelled “done”. Christ has done all that is necessary for me to go to Heaven.”
And there is all the difference in the world in those two little letters.
Sometimes Christians say they can’t forgive themselves for something they have done. If you ask them if God has forgiven them, they will say, “Yes, but I have a hard time forgiving myself.” What they don’t realize is that they are basically saying they have a higher standard of holiness than God Himself !
When a person accepts Christ as their Savior, all their sins, past, present, and future are forgiven and wiped away. When we sin, those sins are already forgiven. But sinning as a Christian breaks the fellowship we have with God. We don’t feel right in God’s presence because we have unconfessed (unacknowledged) sin. We can also lose the joy of our salvation, but not salvation itself. Confession of those sins restores the fellowship we have with God.
God’s holiness is infinite; beyond what we as humans can conceive. Yet because of the payment Jesus made for our sins, God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) can forgive us our sins and we are clothed in the righteousness of Christ Himself. And in forgiving us, God remains just as righteous and just as ever.
When we say that God has forgiven us for our sins, yet say we cannot forgive ourselves, in essence, what we are saying is that we have a higher standard of holiness to which we hold ourselves than God does. Do you see how wrong this is?
So if you are a Christian, forgive yourself. God already has.
We are living in the day of the Laodicean church. Apostates (false teachers) abound in the churches across the nation. Many are popular Christian authors with best selling books. You have heard their names. But remember…just because they sell a lot of books to Christians does not mean they teach the truth of the Bible. Beware!! The current movement called the Emergent Church is a part of the apostasy that the apostles Paul and Peter warned us about.
These teachers teach a “feel good” theology. They also mix a little truth with Satanic lies. They distort scripture. Among other things, they teach that Christianity will win over the world to Christ and bring in God’s kingdom on the earth. They must have learned their false teaching in “Scripture Twisting 101.”
Protect Your Spiritual Health
How do you recognize these so called Christian leaders and ministers? By saturating your mind with the pure teachings of the Bible itself on a daily basis. You have to know your Bible to be able to recognize when some so called Christian pastor or teacher is feeding you a load of baloney. And it doesn’t take that long to have a good grasp of basic Bible knowledge.
Spotting The Heresy
When the FBI trains an agent to spot a counterfeit dollar bill, they don’t use a counterfeit. They have the agent study a genuine dollar bill over and over again. By the time he has a perfect image of what a real dollar bill looks like, he can spot just about any phony almost instantly, unless it is a really good counterfeit.
In the same way, we as Christians will be able to spot heresy and error when we hear it only when we are grounded in the true teachings of the Word of God.
We need to literally saturate our minds with Bible reading on a daily basis. We need to know the Bible like the back of our hand. How does a person do this? It’s not a complicated process.
A Simple Process- Repetitious (or Repetitive) Reading
The best way to know your Bible is to read it repetitiously. This is known as the Synthetic Method of Bible study because it helps you “synthesize” or “put together” each individual book of the bible. Take a small book like Ephesians. Read it through once a day. Do this for thirty days. At the end of the month, you will have a good grasp of the teachings in that book. G. Campbell Morgan, a Bible teacher of years gone by used to say he would not even begin to teach from a book of the Bible until he had read it through at least fifty times.
In his book, How To Master The English Bible, James M. Gray tells how he discovered this method of Bible study:
For the first half of my ministry I did not know my English Bible as I should. The effect was seen both in my spiritual life and in the character of my preaching.
My heart was greatly burdened in prayer about this for more than a year, when God answered me through a layman I met at a Christian convention. I so much coveted his peace and joy in Christ, I asked him how he had obtained the blessing.
He told me it came to him by reading the Epistle to the Ephesians.
I asked him how he had read it.
“I was going to spend the Sabbath with my family in the country,” he said, “and I carried with me a pocket copy of the epistle. In the afternoon I lay down under a tree and read it through at a single reading. My interest being awakened, I read it through again in the same way, and again, and again, as many as 12 or 15 times. When I arose, I was not only in possession of Ephesians, but Ephesians was in possession of me.”
At once I began to apply this simple principle to the whole Bible, beginning at Genesis. I did not read merely the Bible in course, but kept at each book until it was mastered before I began work in the next.
I cannot tell the effect upon me: strengthening my faith in the infallibility of the Bible, enlarging my mental vision, deepening my spiritual life, and lightening the burdens of my ministry.
I suggest starting with the New Testament. The reason is that it contains much needed instruction for growing as a Christian. Begin by choosing a short book in the New Testament to read repetitiously such as I John or I Peter. Read through it completely each day for a month. Then choose another book of the Bible and do the same thing. After a few months, you will be amazed at how well your are mastering the Bible. Once you have read through a few of these shorter New Testament books, choose a longer book like the Gospel of John. John has 21 chapters. Break this down into segments of seven chapters. The first month you will read the first seven chapters (chapters 1-7) each day. The next month, you will read the next seven chapters (chapters 8-14) each day. The third month you will read the final chapters (chapters 15-21) each day for 30 days. At the end of three months, you will have read through the book of John thirty times and have a grasp of the book which will astonish you.
- You Will Experience Fast Spiritual Growth
- By using this method of Bible reading you will grow spiritually like you have never grown before. After a few months to a year, you will be able to look back on your life and see definite changes and improvements in your spiritual and everyday life.
- Problems won’t seem as difficult. Your outlook will improve. You will feel stronger spiritually. It will be like exercising your physical body except your will be growing spiritually instead of physically.
- You Will Be Able to Discern Truth From Error
At the end of two and a half years, you will have read through the New Testament thirty times. You will also know your Bible better than a lot of Bible college graduates. You will know the basic teachings and doctrines of the Bible. Knowing the true teachings of the Bible will help you spot heresy and error when you hear it taught by these modern day apostates mentioned earlier in this article.
Remember the example of the counterfeit dollar bill I mentioned earlier in this article? In the same way, you will be able to spot heretical teaching much quicker and easier because you will KNOW the truth!