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Who Truly Is A Christian? (4)


John 8:30-59, of the Easy-to-read Translation of the bible reads:
While he [that is, Jesus] was saying these things, many people believed in him. So Jesus said to the Jews who believed in him, "If you continue to accept and obey my teaching, you are really my followers. You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free." They answered, "We are Abraham's descendants. And we have never been slaves. So why do you say that we will be free?" Jesus said, "The truth is, everyone who sins is a slave--a slave to sin. A slave does not stay with a family forever. But a son belongs to the family forever. So if the Son makes you free, you are really free. I know you are Abraham's descendants. But you want to kill me, because you don't want to accept my teaching. I am telling you what my Father has shown me. But you do what your father has told you." They said, "Our father is Abraham." Jesus said, "If you were really Abraham's descendants, you would do what Abraham did. I am someone who has told you the truth I heard from God. But you are trying to kill me. Abraham did nothing like that. So you are doing what your own father did." But they said, "We are not like children who never knew who their father was. God is our Father. He is the only Father we have." Jesus said to them, "If God were really your Father, you would love me. I came from God, and now I am here. I did not come by my own authority. God sent me. You don't understand the things I say, because you cannot accept my teaching. Your father is the devil. You belong to him. You want to do what he wants. He was a murderer from the beginning. He was always against the truth. There is no truth in him. He is like the lies he tells. Yes, the devil is a liar. He is the father of lies. "I am telling you the truth, and that's why you don't believe me. Can any of you prove that I am guilty of sin? If I tell the truth, why don't you believe me? Whoever belongs to God accepts what he says. But you don't accept what God says, because you don't belong to God." The Jews there answered, "We say you are a Samaritan. We say a demon is making you crazy! Are we not right when we say this?" Jesus answered, "I have no demon in me. I give honor to my Father, but you give no honor to me. I am not trying to get honor for myself. There is one who wants this honor for me. He is the judge. I promise you, whoever continues to obey my teaching will never die." The Jews said to Jesus, "Now we know that you have a demon in you! Even Abraham and the prophets died. But you say, 'Whoever obeys my teaching will never die.' Do you think you are greater than our father Abraham? He died, and so did the prophets. Who do you think you are?" Jesus answered, "If I give honor to myself, that honor is worth nothing. The one who gives me honor is my Father. And you say that he is your God. But you don't really know him. I know him. If I said I did not know him, I would be a liar like you. But I do know him, and I obey what he says. Your father Abraham was very happy that he would see the day when I came. He saw that day and was happy." The Jews said to Jesus, "What? How can you say you have seen Abraham? You are not even 50 years old!" Jesus answered, "The fact is, before Abraham was born, I AM." When he said this, they picked up stones to throw at him. But Jesus hid, and then he left the Temple area.

Looking at the story above, it seems highly unlikely that a person would engage in an argument or quarrel with someone he only just confessed to believe in. Certainly, such a thing cannot occur between a Christian and Jesus Christ, his Lord, Who brought him salvation through His death on the cross at Calvary about 2,000 years ago. It is sad to say, but the truth is that many people who say they are Christians because of Jesus death at Calvary, like the Jews who only in verse 30, expressed belief in in Him, and yet engaged Him in an argument, are in a constant dispute with Jesus and His word! For example there are disputes as to whether a person can divorce his wife or her husband, and whether a divorcee can remarry while the spouse is still alive. Then there is the issue of head covering for women. Indeed, it is very common to see women who claim to worship God in our churches without any head covering whatsoever. Their justification for pubic worship without head covering is that this is the dispensation of grace and of liberty, and that American women preachers and worshippers do not cover their heads, yet God is blessing them and their ministries. Indeed, there have been a lot of arguments on the issue of head-covering, it is only appropriate that the word of God be the arbiter. So, what does the word of God say? In 1 Corinthians 11:1-16, Paul, the Apostle, by the unction of the Holy Spirit, wrote to the Corinthian church on the issue, thus: Follow my example, just as I follow the example of Christ. I praise you because you remember me in all things. You follow closely the teachings I gave you. But I want you to understand this: The head of every man is Christ. And the head of a woman is the man. And the head of Christ is God. Every man who prophesies or prays with his head covered brings shame to his head. But every woman who prays or prophesies should have her head covered. If her head is not covered, she brings shame to her head. Then she is the same as a woman who has her head shaved. If a woman does not cover her head, it is the same as cutting off all her hair. But it is shameful for a woman to cut off her hair or to shave her head. So she should cover her head. But a man should not cover his head, because he is made like God and is God's glory. But woman is man's glory. Man did not come from woman. Woman came from man. And man was not made for woman. Woman was made for man. So that is why a woman should have her head covered with something that shows she is under authority. Also, she should do this because of the angels. But in the Lord the woman needs the man, and the man needs the woman. This is true because woman came from man, but also man is born from woman. Really, everything comes from God. Decide this for yourselves: Is it right for a woman to pray to God without something on her head? Even nature itself teaches you that wearing long hair is shameful for a man. But wearing long hair is a woman's honor. Long hair is given to the woman to cover her head. Some people may still want to argue about this. But we and the churches of God don't accept what those people are doing. Simply, the scripture verses we just read declare to us that, we are to follow the examples of our church leaders only in so far as they are themselves following Christ, hence:
1. No man should pray or prophesy (that is, preach or teach) in public, with his head covered, which includes that little cap some church leaders put as a mark of their title and Office. Outside the pulpit and pews, however, one is free to wear whatever he pleases on his head, provided he is not preaching or teaching.
2. No woman should pray, preach or teach in public, with her head uncovered. Contrary to what many may think, the verse which says, Long hair is given to the woman to cover her head is not speaking of the womans hair as the covering God is speaking about, but a head scarf or hat. And this does not include the artificial hair which many women now adorn! Also, a woman is not asked to cover her hair outside the church. This means that the time frame a woman has to cover her hair in a week, is no more than a couple of hours on Sundays, and, another couple hours on bible study and prayer meeting daysa total of no more than six hours a week, or less than 4% of the number of hours in a week. So, what then is the problem?
3. The bible gives us the reasons why the man and woman should, respectively, not cover and cover, their heads:
For the man, the bible says because he is the glory of God, he is to leave his head uncovered so as to reveal that glory.
For the woman, the bible implies that since she is the glory of man, to uncover her hair is to reveal the glory of man, which is not just shameful before the Lord, but also, is an affront to the glory of God in worship, before Whom no flesh shall glory! Head covering is also a physical sign of a woman being under authority. Head covering is thus, a mark of humility and subjection to the authority of God, represented by a husband, for a married woman, or a father or spiritual leader, for the unmarried woman. Furthermore, the bible tells us that even nature abhors a woman who is uncovered. Finally, the Apostle concludes that it is not the custom in the church of God for a woman to be uncovered.

With such explicitness, one wonders why the debate on head covering for women, and, an uncovered head for men in public worship!

We now make some statements about who is not a Christian based on the Lords comments about the Jews who said they believed in Him, and yet manifested a contrary behaviour, from our main scripture text in John 8:30-59. We had already noted last week that being the protg of a person who serves and deeply loves God, like a parent, a mentor, or a pastor, does not mean that you are a child of God. Christianity is a personal relationship with God; not a relationship with, or through men! We also averred last week that being a member of a church renowned for sound doctrinal teachings does not make you a Christian either. It is putting to practice those doctrines holiness, humility, Holy Spirit baptism, and so on, which is the proof of your Christianity!

We now noted the following:
a) The same Jews who believed in Jesus because of the words which they heard Him speak, were now in an argument with Him: You cannot claim to trust in someone, and then turn round to challenge him. Such an affront shows clearly that you neither trust, nor, respect or regard him! For those of you out there who are in the habit of arguing and quarrelling with the word of God, we make bold to say that if you have issues with the word of God, particularly on matters where the word of God is explicit, like the issues of divorce and remarriage (which God explicitly says He never intended to happen), and, head covering earlier mentioned, then the word of God has no place in your heart. And if the word of God has no place in your heart, then, you are clearly not a Christian, because a true Christian accepts the word of God whole heartedly as truth, which is to be obeyed; not as a set of ideas which may be debated, and argued or quarrelled with! Similarly, if you seek to kill, malign, or discredit a messenger of Godone who speaks for God, and who has told you the truth in Gods word, you cannot be a Christian, for a Christian loves those who speak the truth in the word of God.
b) The Jews professed that God is their Father, and yet they wanted to kill the One Whom God sent to them: You cannot be a Christian if your profession of God as your Father is not matched with your love for Him, His word, and His children. The bible tells us in 1 John 4:20-21, that if a person cannot love a Christian brother or sister whom he can see and interact with physically, his claim to loving God Whom he has not seen is false! In 1 John 5:1-3, the bible says that a person who loves Gods children is a person who loves God; and a person who loves God, is a person who obeys Gods word. Obedience to Gods word is therefore at the root of a persons love for God and His children. In Matthew 15:3, 7-9, the bible differentiates between doctrine and the commandments of men on one hand, and a mouthed love, and a heart love on the other hand. Following the injunctions of men, no matter how pious it may seem, is not the same as obeying the word of God, and, a mere vocalization of your love of God without the commensurate act of love for His children is just thatmere talk! A heart love for God can be seen in our obedience to Gods word, our total devotion to God, and, our dedication in serving Him!
c) The Lord told the Jews that their actions betrayed the truth of whose they really arethe devils!: You cannot say that you are a Christian and yet be engaged in the deeds of the devil, such as murder (John 10:10); telling lies (Revelation 21:5-8; 22:15), not being at home with the truth (2 John 1:9), wrongfully accusing the brethren, luring a person away from God and His word, engaging in cult activities, like being a member of the Ogboni Fraternity, Lodge, the Rosicrusian Order, etc. Anyone who engages in any of these is clearly not a Christian.
d) The Lord also told the Jews who claimed to believe in Him, that they were unable to accept and do His word/teachings: this implied that they really did not believe in Him. We can therefore boldly say that if you are unable to hear and do the word of God, you cannot be said to be a Christian, because one of the key indicators of a Christian is his obedience to the word of God, which in reality, is a gift bestowed on every Christian once he is born again of the Spirit of God. A non-Christian or a mere church goer cannot obey Gods word, no matter how hard he may try! The New Living Translation of Romans 8:5-9, states, Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit. If your sinful nature controls your mind, there is death. But if the Holy Spirit controls your mind, there is life and peace. For the sinful nature is always hostile to God. It never did obey Gods laws, and it never will. Thats why those who are still under the control of their sinful nature can never please God. But you are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you. (And remember that those who do not have the Spirit of God living in then are not Christians at all.)

We have a lot more to say on the subject of who is not a Christian, and we shall continue, God willing, next week. But for now, let us ask: Who is in charge of your life? Who controls you? Who is leading you to do the things you are doing? The answer to these questions will determine if you truly are a Christian. If anyone but the Holy Spirit is in charge of your life, controls you, and is leading you, then, you are not a Christian; even if the person who controls your life is a great man of God! It is only when you give the Holy Spirit free course in your life, that you will be able to obey God and His word. It is only when the Holy Spirit is in control of your life that you will be able to accept the word of God as truth, and not quarrel or argue with it. It is only when the Holy Spirit is leading you that you can truly be said to be walking in the Spirit, and thus, be pleasing God.

Friend, what has been your own experience? Have you tried to obey Gods word, and found it very difficult to do? You sin today, and then confess tomorrow; you commit the same sin again tomorrow and confess again; and the cycle is repeated over and over again. It simply means that you are yet to have the Holy Spirit in your life, which in turn means that you are yet to receive the grace of God which brings salvation into your life. If, however, you can say that you are born again, then we must ask, Why is it difficult for you to obey Gods word? Why is it difficult for you to live as God expects you to? The simple answer is, you are unable to, because, you have not been enabled to, by the Holy Spirit; and this is because, you are yet to truly receive the salvation of God. Well, all that can change for you this instant, if you stop playing games and come before God in true repentance of your sins, and ask for His forgiveness. You see, there are those who are in church because they need a job, or they want a contract approved, or they want a God-fearing wife or a God-fearing husband, or a child, or they want to have large sums of money, or they want an enemy destroyed, or they want to become great, and so on. The truth is, these are wrong reasons to be in church. But if you really want to live a life free of sin, and are interested in eternity with God, stop playing games with Him, your life, and, your eternity; turn to God now, and receive the ability to live a sin-free life from now on, as well as the assurance of that eternal hope.

Let us pray.