Nominal Christianity

John 6:66 From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more. Then Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you also want to go away?”

The path of a follower of Jesus is never an easy one. For those who say it is, they’ve never really identified with Christ in His death. I imagine it wasn’t easy for His disciple. If you consider all they went through, it’s amazing they stayed around until the end. Their steadfast refusal to depart from their faith in Christ, even until death, is a testament to the impact Jesus had on them.

From the onset, Jesus was placing them in positions of discomfort. Living homeless, traveling into regions that were considered off limits, sending them into a boat that risked capsizing, enduring trials, angry mobs, and seemingly endless treks across the land, as just the start. They were constantly confused by His teaching, wondering why they stayed in one place longer while leaving another great opportunity behind them. They were called blind, deaf, and at one point accused of being led by Satan or sinners by the company they kept. Their lives had to be fatiguing and in Jesus’ greatest hour of need, they slept right through it.

What made the disciples want to continue on, even in the midst of all this trial?

After Jesus had recently taught on a principle of hungering for righteousness that was parlayed unto an example of eating His flesh and drinking His blood, many of the disciples (other than the twelve) that followed Him, left, not to return. Jesus asked the 12, do you want to leave also?

John 6:68-69 But Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

What was it that compelled the disciples to press on?

1. Jesus brought eternal life to them.

How many people live for only the present?

The idea of only living for the day is a risky bet. What if it doesn’t go as planned? What if the things you’ve invested your life in proves to be a false hope?

There are reasons why very successful people wrestle with substance abuse, fear, depression, or even suicide; They have typically placed all their chips on one number….worldly gain.

Peter is responding to Jesus’ inquiry in complete honesty, “Where will we go?”

Even though Peter was a fisherman and always had his trade he could fall back on, he recognized early on, that option was off the table. He had met Jesus, heard Him teach, saw the miracles, and he knew, there was no other way.

What back-up plan have you kept hidden away?

Matthew 19:27 Then Peter answered and said to Him, “See, we have left all and followed You. Therefore what shall we have?”

To follow Christ requires a complete abandonment to your old life. I mentioned in the post, “Being Seed”, the necessity of dying to ourselves that we might live again. Peter had done just that, he recognized his old life is history, what happened from that point on was to only be found in Christ.

Jesus’ teaching to His disciples was a difficult concept to grasp and even though they didn’t understand at the time it’s meaning, they trusted in the Lord enough to press on.

*We will have those moments of confusion.

There will be times we simply don’t understand what God is doing or saying in our lives. The prospect may seem scary as to what your hearing, it’s at that point you have a decision to make…will I run or will I stay?

At the time of Jesus’ greatest hour of need, Judas Iscariot decided to run. Not only did he leave, he turned on Jesus and betrayed Him. For 30 pieces of silver, he decided it was more valuable than eternal life.

Matthew 26:47-49 And while He was still speaking, behold, Judas, one of the twelve, with a great multitude with swords and clubs, came from the chief priests and elders of the people. Now His betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “Whomever I kiss, He is the One; seize Him.” Immediately he went up to Jesus and said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed Him.

*With that kiss, Judas sealed his fate forever.

The break that happens when a person who fully understands the work of God, partakes of His goodness, and tastes of His love….then rejects it….well, Hebrews says it best:

Hebrews 6:4-6 For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame.”

Many have taken this scripture to imply that someone may “lose” their salvation, the problem is, there are far to many scriptures that say otherwise.

For example:

1 Peter 1:4-5to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”

1 Samuel 2:9 He guards the steps of His faithful ones, but the wicked perish in darkness; for by his own strength shall no man prevail.”

John 10:28I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them out of My hand.”

Ephesians 2:8 “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,

Jude 1:1Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and a brother of James, To those who are called, loved by God the Father, and kept in Jesus Christ:”

Now, there are a lot more scriptures that talk of God’s people being kept in His care until the day of salvation. Some will say you can’t lose your salvation, but you can walk away.

*The problem I have with that argument is in God’s seal that He places upon His people.

Ephesians 4:30And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption”

Ephesians 1:13In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,”

You see, I can’t find any scripture that talks about God breaking the seal in which He personally places on His people. If you can find one, please let me know. A seal, placed by God in your life, can only be broken by God Himself. You can’t seal yourself either, you don’t have the authority to do so, His seal is placed when the Spirit fills the heart of a true believer. Why?

Ephesians 1:14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.

The Spirit of God has many good works He does in the hearts of a believer, but the symbol of a seal is a guarantee of our possession.

-——————-We belong to Him!—————-

How do we know when someone has not been sealed by the Spirit?

1 John 3:6 “No one who remains in Him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has seen Him or known Him.”

The pattern of habitual sin is a tricky one to conclude. The questions arise as to what does habitual sin look like? Sinning continually, sinning periodically like once/day, once/week? The difficulty in understanding what a True believer looks like versus a believer only in title has some characteristics that can be differentiated, but it is a process of looking at the entire trend of a person… even then, you can’t ever be totally sure. A short list includes:

  1. Real Christians love others unconditionally/Nominal can only show a form of love but it doesn’t arise from Christ in them.
  2. Real Christians love the body of Christ/Nominal show up because they’re suppose to.
  3. Real Christians experience the conviction of the Spirit in their lives/Nominal christians only know what is right and wrong.
  4. Real Christians love the Lord with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength/Nominal christians know of the Lord.
  5. Real Christians may fall many times and rise again/Nominal have remained fallen from the start.
  6. Real Christians have a love for the Word of God/Nominal read it out of respect.

Do you kind of see the picture that is forming here? Everything a True Believer manifests in their life arise from some form of the Spirit manifesting that in them, a nominal christian has never really humbled themselves enough to give themselves to Christ. The result of living a nominal christian life will be one of rejection by the Lord.

Matthew 7:22-23 Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you workers of lawlessness!’

Nominal christians never knew Jesus personally.

It is because of nominal christians the church has gotten such a bad reputation. Nominal christians will proclaim allegiance to Christ but they will only do what feels good to them, not act on the leading of the Holy Spirit. They will lack the love that is necessary to change hearts and draw people out of darkness. Their conduct will be a consistent pattern that makes others turn away from Christ rather than draw them toward Christ. It is impossible for a nominal christian to exemplify Jesus to the world, the work of the Holy Spirit is not at work in them so the image they portray is a gross aberration of what God intended.

Many times I’ve talked with people who are unbelievers who say they walked away from the church because of what the people were like. Now, more than likely, not everyone in that church was unloving, but it only takes one or two to leave someone with the impression they are not wanted nor are they worth their time.

We see nominal christians in every facet of leadership in the church. Just because someone is a pastor doesn’t mean they are filled with the Spirit. Watch and listen to how a pastor leads and you will see very quickly whether they exemplify the Word of God in their leadership or they are more about exalting themselves. These churches go dead very quickly or they become a twisted form of the light that only brings more darkness.

2 Corinthians 5:18-21 “Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”

*If we are to go on in fellowship with Christ, if we are to live like true believers in this dark world of upheaval and rage, we must draw ever closer to Jesus. We must spend more time in prayer and less time in play. The Word of God must be imprinted on our hearts and minds so that we can distinguish between truth and falsehood. Our mandate is clear…now we must act on it.

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