Christian “Litmus” Test : Extracted from Galatians 4:28 — Proving oneself to be a Christian: What are the essentials one must come to believe with the heart, understand with the mind, confess with the mouth (Rom. 10:10) and hold fast to the end (II Tim. 1:13; Heb. 3:6; 4:14b; 10:23a; see also Col. 1:23):
1. Concerning God: God is and is self-existent in three persons: Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Above all, He is Holy, Holy, Holy (Isa. 6:3; Rev. 4:8). There is no confusion or disagreement in the Eternal God. Being co-equal and in absolute concert one with the other, they are differentiated only by authority and function but not as to their persons. He is JEHOVAH, the I AM and “not a man that He should lie; neither the son of man, that He should repent” (Num. 23:19). He is omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent and immutable.
A. God the Father – the First Person: He is the originator, supreme in authority and wills all things that come to pass (Eph. 1:11). The Father elects, predestines to adoption as children and makes us accepted in the Beloved (Eph. 1:4-5). As adopted children, He qualified or “made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light” and, by the means of His Son (Gal. 1:4), delivered us from the power of darkness and translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son (Col. 1:13). Along with His Son (Jn. 10:16; Rom. 1:6; Gal. 1:15), the Father calls those whom He has chosen “in Christ”. Because the Father has willed those He has chosen, and who can resist His will (Rom. 9:19-24), there is no room left for rejection by His elect since all He ordained to eternal life will believe the gospel concerning His Son (Acts 13:48). The means of reaching the elect is the by “the foolishness of preaching” (Rom. 10:14-15; I Cor. 1:21)
B. God the Son – the Second Person: He is identified as Jesus Christ, the only “begotten Son of God”, “God manifest in the flesh” (Jn. 1:14a; I Tim. 3:16; I Jn. 5:7-8), the “first begotten of the dead” (Rev. 1:5 – see also Rom. 8:29; Col. 1:15, 18; Heb. 1:6; 12:23), the “I AM” (Jn. 8:58) who appeared to Moses (Exod. 3:14) and, among many other titles, the Son of Man (Dan. 7:13; Matt. 8:32; 24:30; Jn. 1:51; 6:62; Rev. 1:13; 14:14). As both fully God and fully a Man, He alone is qualified as the sole Mediator between God and men (Jn. 14:6; I Tim. 2:5). Furthermore, “All things were made by Him; and without Him was not anything made that was made” (Jn. 1:3). Given “a name which is above all names” (Eph. 1:21; Phil. 2:9), “He is before all things, and by Him all things consist” (Col. 1:17). Being the instrument of the creative act of His Father, “He made the worlds” (Eph. 3:9; Heb. 1:2b).
Now, God is the only Savior – “I, even I, am the LORD [JEHOVAH], and beside Me there is no Savior” (Isa. 43:11; 45:21b; 49:26; 60:16; see also Ps. 106:21; Hos. 13:4). And that Savior is specifically identified as Jesus (Lk. 2:11; Jn. 4:42; Acts 5:31; 13:23; Phil. 3:20). This same Jesus “died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the scriptures” (I Cor. 15:1-4) in a real corporeal body (Matt. 28:9; Lk. 24:39-43; Acts 1:3; I Jn. 1:1) never to die again (Rom. 6:9; Rev. 1:18). Having ascended into heaven (Mk. 16:19; Lk. 24:51; Acts 1:9-11), He is now seated at the right hand of God (Mk. 16:19; Acts 2:33; 7:55-56; Rom. 8:34; Col. 3:1; Heb. 10:12; I Pet. 3:22) “expecting [waiting] until His enemies be made His footstool” (Ps. 110:1; Heb. 10:13). Being given that name, it also means that “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
He is the propitiation for our sins (Rom. 3:25; I Jn. 2:2; I Jn. 4). This means that our Lord Jesus did not merely atone or cover over our sins, as in putting a lid on something. Rather, and this could only be for His elect, He “took away” our sins (Ps. 103:12; Isa. 38:17; Jn. 1:29; Col. 2:13-14; Heb. 10:10-12) and His shed blood continually cleanses us of all sin (Eph. 1:7; I Jn. 1:7b; Rev. 1:5). If you believe His sacrifice was total, it becomes logical not to insult Him or His sacrifice by asking for forgiveness every time you sin in thought or deed.
Finally, Jesus is that Man ordained by God, who will judge the world in righteousness (Acts 17:31; II Tim. 4:1; I Pet. 4:5; Rev. 20:11-15).
C. God the Holy Spirit – the Third Person: He is referred to as the Comforter (Jn. 14:16, 26; 15:26; 16:7), the Holy Ghost (Matt. 1:18, 20; Jn. 14:26; Acts 1:2, 5, 8, 16; 2:4; I Cor. 12:3), the Spirit of Truth (Jn. 14:26; 15:26; 16:7, 13), the Spirit of God (Gen. 1:2) and the Spirit of Christ (Rom. 8:9; I Pet. 1:11). Our Lord likened His action to that of the wind which “bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither is goeth” (Jn. 3:8). His function is to “reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment” (Jn. 16:8), to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ and not Himself (Jn. 16:14), to “guide believers into all truth” (Jn. 16:13), to serve as the “earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession” (Eph. 1:14), to teach us “of all things” (I Jn. 2:27) and to act as a restraint on evil “until He be taken out of the way” (II Thess. 2:7). He also moved “holy men of God” to write “prophecy of the Scripture” (II Pet. 1:21).
2. Concerning Man: In stark contrast, man is born into this world in the image of Adam, not God (Gen.. 5:1-5), dead in trespasses and sins (Eph. 2:1) but with an awareness of His presence and deity “because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened” (Rom. 1:21). This is evidenced that, according to the Scriptures, no one “seeketh after God”, no not one (Rom. 3:10-18 – quoting Ps. 5:9; 10:7; 14:1-3; 36:1; 53:1-3; 140:3; Isa. 59:1-8) and are “by nature, the children of wrath” (Eph. 2:3). Contrary to popular teaching intended to fill church buildings, we are not all God’s children, needing only to return to our Creator. But we desperately need a total transformation (II Cor. 5:17; Gal. 6:15). Only those who are “in Christ” are His by adoption (Rom 8:15, 23; 9:4; Gal. 4:5; Eph. 1:5). Thus, outside of the grace and goodness of God (Rom. 2:4), man is destined for hell (Ps. 19:17; 55:15) and ultimately, the lake of fire (Rev. 20:12-15) and there is no work he can do for God to earn His favor other than to “believe on Him [Jesus] whom He hath sent” (Jn. 6:28-29; Rom. 4:4-5; I Thess. 1:3)
3. Concerning Sin: Sin is not an illusion. It is real with just consequences (Rom. 6:23a; Heb. 2:2). It is not merely the “dirty dozen” or “nasty nine” but actually a transgression or breach, no matter how transitory in thought of the heart or mind or in outward action of any of the Ten Commandments. If you do not believe this, take a look at Matthew 5:21-48. If you still refuse to believe, read this: “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us…If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us (I Jn. 1:8, 10). “And you shall die in your sins” (Jn. 8:21, 24). Take careful thought: “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). Now, the sins of the flesh (Rom. 7:25b) should be grievous to a believer and every effort should be made “through the Spirit to mortify the deeds of the body” (Rom. 8:13b). Thanks be to God that we are unable to sin with our spirit since we are “sitting together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:6). How can this be? Because we are born of God, “His seed [Christ] remaineth in us” (I Jn. 3:9). Notwithstanding, is sin, ongoing or not, grievous to you? The answer should be “Yes” and “Amen”. We should not “sin that grace may abound” (Rom. 6:1). If sin is not distressing to you, you might not be a Christian at all. Paul recounted this ongoing problem along with its solution in Rom. 7:14-25.
(Copyright © February, 2015 – All Rights Reserved – Includes “Broken Cross” image – Reprints can be obtained by contacting us at galatianspilgrimage.com)
(Note: Don’t let our “Broken Cross” image fool you into thinking this particular cross is pagan in its origin. Actually, designed by the authors, it is intended to depict what legalism and lies has attempted to do to the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Unlike other “crosses” you may see which carry a negative connotation, ours is a sign of victory for those “in Christ”.)