Does Christ Know You?

Matthew 7:21-23 is pretty scary. I am worried about many people who consider themselves Christians. Jesus clearly says that there will be some people who consider themselves Christ-followers who will spend eternity in hell. The actual quote is “Not everyone who says to be ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the kingdom of heaven” (v.21).

Then He follows that with this statement, “Many will say to me on that day ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name cast out demons, and perform many miracles? Then I will say to them plainly, ‘I never knew you.  Away from me, you evil doers!” (v.22-23).   

Those verses should cause any Christ-follower to pause and consider their eternity. Jesus also makes it clear who gets to spend eternity in heaven when He said, “but only he who does the will of my Father” (v.21). 

Scripture is consistent throughout; obedience as evidence of the indwelling saving work of the Holy Spirit is the primary test for loving God and having a relationship with Christ (John 14:15-21).

Praying a prayer, being baptized, attending church faithfully, giving money, going through confirmation, nor any other work or deed alone can save a person. The greatest evidence of a personal relationship with Christ is the work of the Holy Spirit in you evidenced by an obedient heart. 

Obedience seems to be a key defining mark of a Christ-follower. “Not everyone who says to me ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” The word “only” is deafening! “Only” the person who obeys God will be in heaven.    

Plastic Christians are killing the church. There are two disturbing issues; first, people who have a personal relationship with Christ, but are so bogged down with religion they are not authentic Christ-followers, and secondly, those who claim to know Christ, have been through all the motions of religion, but in reality they do not know Christ.

The second is much worse than the first. The first group is killing the redemptive potential of the local church, but they will go to heaven. 

The second group are not only killing they redemptive potential of the local church, but they will know spend eternity in heaven. Knowing the facts about Christ is different than actually “knowing” Christ. In Philippians 2:12-13 Paul tells us to “continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to His good purpose”.

In other words, if you have a personal relationship with Christ, the Holy Spirit will indwell you, and He will work in you to want to obey and to actual follow-through with obeying God. Therefore, if you find yourself not wanting to obey, or unwilling to obey God, Paul would say “with fear and trembling” you had better figure out if you truly have experienced the life-change that comes with a personal relationship with Christ. 

Because, you see, the real question is not, “Do you know Christ?”, but rather “Does Christ know you?”

The Two Realities of the Local Church

“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.” (Eph 1:18-22)

According to researcher, and statistical data guru, George Barna, more that 211 million of the 300+ million Americans claim no church affiliation or personal relationship with Christ. Every day in America, 10 churches cease to exist. Only one-third of new church plants survive to see their three-year anniversary. 75% of churches are in decline. 24% are “growing”, if you call 5% over 5 years growth, but primarily through transfers from other churches. And only 1% of churches are growing primarily through reaching unchurched and dechurched people.

America is in the condition it is in because of the condition of the church. So Jesus gave the church a mandate to “go, and make disciples, baptizing, and teaching them, in the authority that God had given to Jesus” (Matt 28:18-20). Or another way Jesus said it was, “When my Spirit comes upon you, you will be my witnesses….” (Acts 1:8). So where is the breakdown between what Christ expects of His church and the reality of the average church?

The breakdown is the result of a lethal combination of poor leadership, poor ministry systems, poor organizational structures, and poor followship. In practical reality, the average church has become little more than a club for self-centered, flesh-controlled spiritual toddlers (some will even get mad just reading this article :).  Yet, in biblical reality, the church is the only hope of the world. We are to be “the ambassadors of Christ”, that carry God’s message of reconciliation to the world around us (2 Cor. 5:18-21).

As individual Christ-followers and churches we are “The Church”. We are specifically responsible for the redemptive potential God has entrusted to us. According to Scripture, “It is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful (1 Cor. 4:1-5). We will have to give an account to God for how we have managed the redemptive potential He has entrusted to us.

With all the negative comments in the above paragraphs, I agree with Paul’s heart in the verses I quoted in the first paragraph; I pray the church wakes up and realizes the hope they have been entrusted with, who they are in Christ, and the “incomparably great power for us who believe”. Read those last two words again; “who believe.”

If you know Christ as your personal savior, the same power (Holy Spirit) that raised Christ from the dead lives in you. He wants to be released to carry out the work of God in and through you and your church.

40 Things the Holy Spirit Does

The Trinity is God the Father, God the Son (Jesus), and God the Spirit (Holy Spirit). The moment a person truly accepts Jesus as their personal Lord (Leader) and Savior (Forgiver) the Holy Spirit begins to live inside of them. However, I have found that many people do not understand very much about the person and work of the Holy Spirit in their lives.

My personal opinion why so many people who consider themselves “saved” do not understand the Holy Spirit is that through our disobedient choices without repentance many have so “grieved” (#24) and “quenched” (#25) the Holy Spirit that He merely becomes inactive until we are willing to yield and surrender to Him. The purpose of this article is to list forty things the Bible clearly says about the Holy Spirit.

  1. He is like Jesus. (John 14:16-19)
  2. He teaches. (John 14:26)
  3. He testifies (John 15:26)
  4. He guides. (John 16:13)
  5. He convicts. (John 16:8)
  6. He intercedes. (Rom. 8:26-28)
  7. He commands. (Acts 13:2,4, 8:29, 16:6)
  8. He empowered Jesus. (Luke 3:22, 4:1, 14)
  9. He produces fruit. (Gal 5:22-23)
  10. He reveals. (Eph. 1:17-19)
  11. He unifies. (1 Cor.12)
  12. He is gift giving. (1 Cor.12, Rom. 12:3-8)
  13. He is Christ-exalting. (John 16:14)
  14.  He is jealous and envious. (James 4:5)
  15.  He can be lied to. (Acts 5:3)
  16.  He can be resisted. (Acts 7:51)
  17. He can be blasphemed. (Matt.12:32, Mark 3:29-30)
  18. He can be obeyed or disobeyed. (Acts 10)
  19. He fills us. (Acts 2:4, Eph. 5:18, Luke 4:1)
  20. He indwells us. (Rom. 8:11, Eph 3:16-20, John 14:16)
  21. He clothes us. (Luke 24:49)
  22. He empowers us. (Acts 1:8)
  23. He is a gift to us. (John 7:37-39)
  24. He can be grieved. (Eph. 4:30)
  25. He can be quenched. (1 Thes. 5:19)
  26. He has intellect. (Eph 1:17, Rom. 8:27, 1 Cor. 2:1)
  27. He knows the thoughts of God. (1 Cor. 2:11)
  28. He has emotions. (Eph. 4:30)
  29.  He has a will. (Acts 16:6)
  30. He was involved in creation. (Gen. 1:2, Ps. 104:24-30, Job 26:13)
  31. He impregnated Mary. (Matt. 1:20, Luke 1:35)
  32. He inspired Scripture. (2 Pet. 1:21, 2 Tim. 3:16, Heb. 5:12)
  33.  He enables a believer’s rebirth and renewal (regeneration). (Titus 3:5)
  34. He is God’s seal and deposit guaranteeing a believer’s salvation. (2 Cor. 1:21, Eph. 1:13, 4:30)
  35. He enables a believer’s growth in Christ-likeness (sanctification). (2 Thes. 2:13, 1 Pet. 1:2)
  36. He confirms the believer’s salvation. (Rom 8:16)
  37. He empowers witnessing. (Acts 1:8)
  38. He enables a believer to answer tough questions. (Luke 12:11-12)
  39. He enables people to hear God’s voice. (2 Pet. 1:21, 2 Tim. 3:16-17)
  40. He helps believers to pray. (Eph. 6:18, Jude 20)

The bottom line: It is the God-assigned task of the Holy Spirit to make a difference in you so He can make a difference through you so that you can be the person God intends you to be. Our job is simply to surrender to the process. There is a battle raging in each of us between our flesh and the Holy Spirit for control (Gal 5:16-23), and our choices determine who wins. Yielding to our flesh can forfeit the forty items listed previously. Do yourself and your family a favor; surrender your life to Christ and the work of the Holy Spirit in and through you.

The Question of All Eternity

Do you have a relationship with a religion, or do you have a real relationship with a real person named Jesus?  That really is the question of all eternity.

Many people “go to church”, but as the adage goes, “going to church doesn’t make you a Christ-follower any more than going to McDonald’s makes you a Big Mac” (unless of course you subscribe to the “you are what you eat” theory). Attending church, even faithfully, simply does not guarantee a person a personal relationship Christ.

Understanding a personal relationship with Christ begins with understanding that a real God sent His real Son to die on a real cross for my and your very real sin. Three days later, God raised His real Son from a real death through a real resurrection so that He could be the one and only real Savior of all mankind. A personal relationship with Christ begins with acknowledging your need for a Savior, then verbalizing a real desire and decision to make Jesus your Lord and Savior….your leader and forgiver; then inviting Him to change you from the inside out through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Salvation occurs when the Holy Spirit indwells a person or begins living in a person (Titus  3:3-7, John 7:37-39). Salvation is the result of “believing IN YOUR HEART (not your merely with your head – James 2:19), and confessing or declaring with your mouth that Jesus is Lord” (Romans 10:9-10, 13).

Religion is a relationship with a system of beliefs, rules, and traditions. A personal relationship with Jesus is a life changing interaction through a real relationship with a real Savior named Jesus Christ. The bottom line defining factor is the activity of the Holy Spirit in one’s life. Once a person truly has a personal relationship with Jesus, the Holy Spirit indwells them. The Holy Spirit’s bottom line delegated task from God is to make a difference in a person so He can make a difference through them. Do you recognize the activity of the Holy Spirit in your life?

2 Timothy 3:1-5 describes people with a “form of godliness”, which in the original language indicates a structured religion, “but denying it’s power”, which in the original language means “the powerful one of God” or the Holy Spirit. The description is not very flattering, but it does clearly describe our culture.

It’s all about relationship. Forget religion…it’s dead and it leads to spiritual death. Religion does not save…religion does not truly change lives… all religion does is complicate, confuse, and bore. Only a personal relationship with a real Savior changes one’s life.

How’s your relationship with God? Does it make a difference or is it just what you do because you are suppose to? Are you bored in your spiritual journey? Do yourself a favor, quit chasing “stuff”, and start chasing after a life changing relationship with God. He is real, and He really does make a difference! You will never be the same.

Condemnation NEVER Comes from God

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus…”  (Romans 8:1). “When he (the Holy Spirit) comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin…” (John 16:8). “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord” (Acts 3:19). The topic of this article is the difference between conviction, condemnation, and repentance.

Conviction is the work of the Holy Spirit. Conviction always comes from God. Conviction is always specific (you lied, you made a wrong choice, your attitude is wrong, your motives are impure, etc). With conviction there is always a solution (repent, take responsibility, make restitution, etc). And conviction always produces hope and restoration (God is making a difference in you so He can make a difference through you).

God uses conviction to get our attention, to remind us of areas of our lives in need of His transformational touch, to lovingly discipline us, to restore us, to draw us closer to Himself, and ultimately to make us more like Jesus in our behaviors, attitudes, motives, and intentions. God wants to use conviction to give you life to the fullest (John 10:10) by setting you free to be all He has purposed you to be.

Condemnation, on the other hand, never comes from God. Condemnation is usually very general (you are a failure, you can’t be forgiven, you will never get out of this mess, etc). Condemnation never has a solution (you can never change, you deserve this pain, you will never be free, etc). And condemnation always intends to produce despair, depression, fear, anxiety, and hopelessness.

The enemy uses condemnation to kill, steal and destroy (John 10:10). Satan wants to destroy your hope because he knows that without hope you will not even make the effort. The enemy wants to use condemnation to keep you beat up, discouraged, afraid, and imprisoned by his lies and deceitful ways.

Repentance is the turning away from one’s sin. Repentance should be our response to the conviction of the Holy Spirit. Repentance is goes far beyond mere agreement with God that you have sinned. Repentance implies change. The best way I know to define repentance is as a change of mind, a change of direction, and a change of purpose. Repentance means to change one’s mind, disposition, and behavior toward God by acknowledging personal error and turning toward God’s universal, objective, constant, absolute truth as found in Scripture.

God uses repentance to help us maintain proper relationship with Him, to help us walk out the practical side of forgiveness and to follow-through with the spiritual development and life-change process, as well as to give us spiritual renewal, restoration, and refreshing.

Bottom line:  If Jesus is your Savior, you no longer have to cope with condemnation.  Jesus died on a cross to set you free from condemnation.  Every week I remind people that ALL of their sin, shame, and guilt was nailed to the cross.  When the Holy Spirit convicts you…reject condemnation….choose repentance…. and God will restore you and give you renew your hope!