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 disciples. 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.

A Disciples Journey

From the beginning, Jesus placed His disciples in positions of discomfort. Living homeless, traveling into regions that were considered off limits, sending them into perilous situations, enduring trials, angry mobs, and seeming endless treks across the land, just for starters. The disciples were often confused by His teaching and questioned why they were always moving on when great opportunity was before them. They would travel through lands that were considered off limits to Jews and would stay and minister in unexpected places. They were accused of being led by Satan and defiled by sinners with the company they kept. Because of their spiritual blindness, they were always trying to understand what Jesus was doing. Their journey had to be fatiguing and during 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 the Bread of Life, He went right into the example of eating His flesh and drinking His blood. Many of the disciples (other than the twelve), left never to return. Jesus asked the twelve, 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?

*Jesus embodied eternal life.

There are so many people who live only for 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 prove 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 hope….worldly gain.

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

Peter was a fisherman and even though he still 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 complete abandonment to any notion of your old life. The necessity to die to ourselves is so that we might live again. Peter had done just that, he recognized his old life is history, whatever happened from that point on was going to happen in Christ.

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

We too will have those moments of confusion.

There will be times we just don’t understand what God is doing or saying in our lives. The prospect of walking in blindness may seem scary but it’s at that point you have a decision to make…will you run or will you 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 thirty 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….there is no return.

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 1:4-5 to 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.”

*God’s power is what sustains His people; nothing can come against it.

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.”

*Each step of the way, the Lord watches over His people.

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

*The enemy cannot take you from Him, His hands are strong and they are fully capable of keeping you safe.

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

*Grace is given. There is nothing you can do to earn it nor is there anything you can do to invalidate His grace.

Jude 1:1 Jude, 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:”

*It was by Jesus’ sacrifice upon the cross we are saved. It was a final sacrifice, complete, and finished.

There are many 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. If Jesus keeps each step, if God holds you in His hand, if grace cannot be offended, then I would also ask how can God’s seal be broken?

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

Ephesians 1:13 In 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,”

I can’t find any scripture that talks about God breaking the seal, one in which He personally places upon 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, you don’t have the authority to do so, His seal is placed when the Spirit fills the heart of a true believer.

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 looks like? Is sinning continually done 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:

*Real Christians love others unconditionally/Nominal can only show a form of love but it doesn’t arise from Christ in them.

*Real Christians love the body of Christ/Nominal show up because they’re suppose to.

*Real Christians experience the conviction of the Spirit in their lives/Nominal christians only know what is right and wrong.

*Real Christians love the Lord with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength/Nominal christians know of the Lord but don’t honor Him with their lives.

*Real Christians may fall many times and rise again/Nominal have remained fallen from the start.

*Real Christians have a love for the Word of God/Nominal read it out of obligation.

Every good thing true Believer manifests in their life comes from some form of the Spirit manifesting Himself in them. A nominal christian has never humbled himself or shown repentance that is required in coming 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 acting 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 5:20-21 “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, we must draw ever closer to Jesus. We must spend more time in prayer and less time in selfish ambition. 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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