What is Christianity? Most of us have been Christians--or at least we've been churched--most of our lives.
Some of us are very religious! And, Some of us are really Christians?
Just what is Christianity? Let's start with what it is NOT!
Christianity is NOT a religion! It's not even religious.
Our Christianity is a personal encounter; a personal relationship; and a commitment to, the Living God in the person of Jesus as our Christ--our savior.
There is the ONE thing that separates Christianity from the world's RELIGIONS!
- In CHRISTIANITY, God reached down to us!
God made the sacrifice that, not only established, but also maintains, the relationship with us.
- In RELIGIONS, man not only defines the terms and sets the standards, but also continually reaches up.
With repetitious ritual and painful sacrifices, religion attempts to APPEASE God so that He will accept us.
Read the Bible! God does not want us to go through religious contortions. He simply wants us to know Him and trust Him! If we do, we'll follow Him.
The problem began in the dawn of human history as described by the Apostle Paul in his letter to the Church in Rome:
Romans 1:21 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. 22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, 23 And changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things.
God was very real to Adam. He was equally as real to Eve.
He visited them in the Garden in the cool of the evenings.
He told them that everything that He had created was at their disposal, for their use. FREE! Except the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. As long as their trusted God, His word, and remained ignorant of good and evil, they were the masters of everything God had put on this earth and in the atmosphere around it.
Since DAY ONE, God has revealed Himself to us! His only requirement for eternal fellowship was just BELIEVE HIM!
- That is to TRUST HIM completely! & to DO AS HE SAYS!
If we want eternal life! If we want a faith that changes our lives!
Then we must trust God so completely that we are willing to invest ourselves totally in Him!
- If we want to reach our POTENTIAL,
- If ... in our life ... there is an EMPTINESS,
- Ifthere are skeletons ... dark secrets ... GUILT,
- If we feel a lack of PURPOSE,
- If we are popping pills, or anything else, in an effort to keep afloat in life, then we are prime candidates to revisit the BEGINNING:
This whole world was created for the habitation of mankind.
We were created to have eternal fellowship with the God who created it.
The ROOT cause of all of our problems in life is SIN.
SIN is doing what we want rather than what God wants.
We must remember:
- that God so loved all of mankind. He loves you and me, individually, and personally.
- that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever BELIEVES on Him, should not perish.
This means we will never be separated from Him, from his purpose, his provisions, his love, his peace, and we will have everlasting life in Him!
God promised us, at the beginning, that we needed a deliverer-- a Christ; a savior. He sent Him 2,000 years ago.
It's a HISTORICAL fact! God is REAL! His WORD is real!
His LOVE is real!
And he proved it all so long ago...
- When God the SON took on humanity
- When God the Son took the responsibility for our SIN
- When God the Son made it possible to restore our fellowship with the FATHER
Our problem today is we either:
- Doubt the reality of God's revelation! Or...
- We trust OURSELVES first and God SECOND!
Either way, we deny ourselves ACCESS to all that God IS and all that God HAS.
This, primarily, was the problem in John's church back in Ephesus when he wrote the little epistle which we call 1st John. The people were being led away from the simple personal relationship with God through Jesus.
They were trying to Excuse their sin with little mind games...
- driving a wedge between the physical and the spiritual;
- believing that the soul remained pure;
- even though the body sinned.
In view of this, John made a marked distinction between the LIGHT--revelation of God--and DARKNESS--the rejection of that revelation.
Jesus said: I am the light of the world. Now we know Jesus is not a light bulb. But He illuminates God Word. He puts a spotlight on our excuses, and He reveals the stupidity of our egotistical self-righteousness.
When we trust God; when we invest ourselves in Him; when we return His great Love, then God brings us into the LIGHT of his revelation. He opens everything that He is and has for our benefit and use!
Doubting God is SIN! It leaves us in DARKNESS--no enlightenment, no revelation, no access, no LOVE, no provisions! Only condemnation!
John said: We must acknowledge--agree with God about--our SIN! That is, if we want to dump the GUILT that tears us down.
SIN, by the way, is a verb! It is something that we do!
We doubt God! We don't trust God! We DO what we want, not what He wants!
John says: Agree with God when we know we are wrong, and He is faithful and justified to forgive us and cleanse us of all unrighteousness.(1 John 1:9)
Paul tells us in ROM 3:23 that all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
NOTICE: He said ALL! Not some! Not a few! But ALL have sinned! That includes you and me! Jesus Christ, Himself, is the only man who has ever lived, who never sinned.
Yet, He became sin for us...
- So that we could have His Righteousness.
- So that God would be justified in accepting us.
John makes it extremely personal when he said:
1 John 1:8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
1 John 1:10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
Next time you get to feeling self-righteous, refer back to these two verses.
And that brings us to CHAPTER 2…
1 John 2:1 My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:
An advocate is one who lends his presence to help his friends. Since we cannot attain perfection this side of the grave, it is a comfort to know that we have a priest and an advocate who is a friend: Who knows us, who loves us, and a friend who knows what we are going through. He's been here! He's gone through it too! He understands!
1 John 2:2 And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.
Most people recoil at "propitiation". It simply means complete satisfaction. It's not a temporary covering until later. It is total compensation for all sin for all time. Jesus became the whipping boy for the whole human race.
Think about it! In Christ, God, himself, reached down and
- blotted out our SIN; washed away our GUILT so that we could freely receive …
- His LOVE; His MERCY; and His RESOURCES!
You don't find that in any religion, and It won't come from any ritual. It comes from a personal relationship with the real and true living God!
Do you really want to know, for sure, that you "know" God?
- Know him to the point of SALVATION;
- know that you are eternally secure in Him?
The answer is in the next verse:
1 John 2:3 And hereby we do know that we know him,(HOW?) if we keep his commandments.
Faith that gives us new life also gives us: new priorities, new appetites, new purposes, and new attitudes.
In English, we miss the significance of this knowing Him.
In Greek, it is ginosko or the knowledge of experience, of personal involvement.
There is another word: Oida, which is knowledge gained through reflective study or mental deduction. This is head knowledge. It requires no , no personal involvement, and no relationship!
The "we know Him" here, means that we have experienced God! We KNOW Him because...
- We have trusted Him!
- We have tried Him!
And He always does His part exactly as He said He would.
1 John 2:4He that says, I know him, and keeps not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.
To TRULY experience God, is to LOVE Him! This is a self-administered test. If you are not motivated to know, love, or follow Jesus, you are still spiritually dead!
To LOVE Him is to LIVE Him--to do what he says, because you know it is right for you.
- If there is no hunger and thirst for His righteousness!
- If there is no appitite for His Word!
- If there is no desire to know everything there is to know about Him!
- If there is no effort to trust Him!
- If there is no evidence to follow Him...
THEN, we really need to re-examine our imagined relationship! Because, we are lying--deceiving ourselves.
1 John 2:5 But whoso keeps (This is a military term which means to capture, hold fast, and to keep as your own) his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected (made complete): hereby know we that we are in him.
This means: If you are fully invested in God's Word-- trusting it with your very life, then the love of God is completed in you!
And, as a result, you are in God, and He is in you!
His Spirit unites with our spirit. It is a LOVE affair!
It's a marriage! There should be: some excitement; some anticipation; and some expectation.
1 John 2:6 He that saith he abides in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.
Both knowledge and relationship brings responsibility!
Experiential knowledge results in a relationship that requires obedience-- a life submitted to the will of God. This obedience is your investment. Your return: Everything that God is; everything He has!
1 John 2:7Brethren, I write no new commandment unto you, but an old commandment which you had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which you have heard from the beginning.
What WORD have we had from the beginning?
Luke 24:44 And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. 45 Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures...
1 John 2:8 Again, a new commandment I write unto you, which thing is true in him and in you: because the darkness is past, and the true light now shines. 9 He that says he is in the light (in the revelation of God), and hates his brother, is in darkness even until now. 10 He that loves his brother abides (lives) in the light, and there is no occasion of stumbling in him.
This word stumble is a trap or snare which leads to death.
It's not a mere stubbing of the toe but a fatal plunge.
If we LOVE God with all of our heart, mind, and soul then we are IN the light and there is no threat of snares or traps.
We're safe! Guided! Protected!
1 John 2:11 But he that hates his brother is in darkness, and walks in darkness, and knows not where he goes, because that darkness has blinded his eyes. 1 John 2:12 I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for his name's sake.
By Grace God saves us. By Grace God accepts us. By Grace God fills us. By Grace we invest ourselves in God, His plan, and His purpose.
REMEMBER: 1 John 5:12 He that has the Son has life; and he that has not the Son of God has not life. 13 These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may believe on the name of the Son of God.
The question is, and always has been: Do you have the Son?
Are you Spiritually alive? Are you wasting everything on this temporary, probationary life? Or are you storing up treasures in heaven--investments of eternal value: Life eternal and abundant!
God has given us everything--temporal & eternal-- in Jesus as our Christ.