Jun. 27, 2019

Evidence Based Christianity

1 John 2:3-6. “By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him: the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.”

John 17:3. “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.”

The “knowing” of God referred to here is the claim to being the intimate friend of God. It is not a theological head knowledge, but a spiritual oneness of which there is evidence (often referred to as the fruit of the Spirit). Indicators exist in the being and life of the claimant to such a relationship, if the claimant is of the Truth Himself. So, of all the passages that ought to bring us to the awareness of the state of our relationship with God, these are primary ones.

In the early days of my “born again” conversion (after years in the institutional church where I grew up) I had to come to grips with this reality: how well do I know God? 

Yet, even after this new beginning, I fell into New Age error (through the ideas of Science of Mind, even while in the Church), eventually the Holy Spirit pulled me out of that, convicting me of the error of this direction, as He drew me to go directly to the Scriptures and study them for myself - without the denominational lenses of my upbringing. The reason I took that direction was largely a need to experience spiritual reality, as well as help for serious life issues, which the church was not addressing. (The evil one does no fight fair; he comes on the prowl when we are down and hungry! Let’s alway remember that.)

As the Good Shepherd once more pulled this errant sheep out of yet another predicament, He brought me face to face with myself and called me to repentance and back to His Word. These passages from St. John turned my life around once more! That was around 2013, after a plunge into the New Age smorgasbord beginning in 1993.The whole thing began with exploring Science of Mind books while still active in an institutional Christian church. There were never any clear teachings or warnings about any of the traps out there in the world’s religions. Their Bible bailiwick was to “defend” their particular “law and grace” position, without any expansion of understanding from the pulpit concerning the implications of Godly living and repentance in the power of the Holy Spirit that should rightly come from this basic matter of Justification.

The centrality of ongoing, blossoming personal knowledge of Jesus Christ as the very essence of eternal life, with the accompanying “signs” of a new creature as evidence, living and rejoicing in manifesting the will of God in oneself is the key. It is not about promoting certain hobby horses promoted by each denomination or so called non-denomination, but Christianity is all about knowing God, which Jesus Christ Himself calls eternal life.

So instead of asking, “Brother, are you saved?” perhaps it would be better to challenge one another with, “Brother, do you know Jesus? If so, how well do you know Him, and what is the evidence of your claim?” 

It begins with the experience of a genuine rebirth by the Holy Spirit. Jesus Himself teaches that this is imperative. (Read and pray about John 3.) The Gospels and Epistles surely give us much to reflect upon and unpack in this regard. Somewhere along the way (maybe even more than once, as in my own case) we need to be brought to conviction and up to speed as to just “what condition our (spiritual) condition is in.”

St. Paul’s directive in 2 Corinthians 13:5 ought to be a frequent go to reminder: “Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you - unless indeed you fail the test?”  The KJV puts it far more strongly: “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?” That is a strong word meaning, per the dictionary, a rogue, rascal, scoundrel, miscreant, good-for-nothing, villain, wretch, rake, degenerate, libertine, debauchee, knave, rapscallion! Something to face up to requiring repentance via the power of God!  Ouch!

If I claim to be in Christ and He in me, where’s the proof? A good way to begin to find out is in prayer, such as David prays in Psalm 139:23,24 - “Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way.” When we don’t know how to come to terms with our condition, or how to begin God invites us to ask! It always begins there. He will never turn us away.

It will require a willingness of us to surrender ourself fully to the answer. It’s not about an attitude of getting by with as little as possible, hoping and kidding ourself that this minimal investment will lead us by and by into the sweet by and by. It will require of us the surrender of all, with a 24-7-365 watchfulness, vigilance, prayer, honesty, and humility before God and one another. True - God never rests, but neither does our adversary, and neither must we! Let us not be as those mentioned in Titus 1:16, “They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient and worthless for any good deed.”

Our Lord Jesus Christ on the very night of His arrest and betrayal, leading to His Passion, makes it all very clear as to what the expectation is, along with an amazing promise: John 14:21, 23 - “He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him… If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him.” 

Who would not desire such fellowship?

Since these are among the final words of our Lord in His John 13-17 discourse with His closest disciples, we do well to heed them as the last will and testament of the Son of God during His final hours. In so doing let us also heed the words of the prophet, Haggai 1:5 - “Now therefore, thus says the LORD of hosts, “Consider your ways!” Yes, NOW!!! 

Let us consider, contemplate, and correct, ever continually asking, seeking, and knocking for the Holy Spirit, the Counselor, Who will lead us into all truth, including our own, and then set us on the needed course correction.

Amen.