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Friday, June 7, 2013

Evangelicals - A New Religion?

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Evangelicals - A New Religion? -  Michael J. S. Austin, Ph.D.


How do we decide what is the heart of Christianity? Is it love, forgiveness, not judging others, caring for the poor and the defenseless - just how do we decide? Perhaps we should also consider the place of Jesus himself, and his death and resurrection. But is anyone close to original Christianity? What yardstick shall we use to check this out?
1. FOLLOWERS FOLLOW
If Christianity is about following Christ, then surely the real followers have a marked resemblance to the One they are following. How do we weigh this up - we don't want unfairly to exclude people, nor do we want to include any who are not Christians. And then what about the various groups - do they have a particular label - are they the real Christians? How would we find out? This is especially challenging for people who are enquiring into Christianity, and trying to check it out. What sort of questions should they ask?
2. TRUTH REVEALED
Perhaps they should begin with some of Jesus' teaching. For instance, he taught 'If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free' (John 8:31-32). This shows that genuine followers really do persevere in Jesus' teaching. They accept Jesus' supreme authority as the final revealer of God, and they have an appreciation of having received true freedom, perhaps from things that once bound them, a freedom to live for the glory of God.
Another way of checking out Christianity of a church or group is to look at their view of the Bible. Do they accept its full authority as the word of God, as Jesus repeatedly did so when he said 'it is written' (Matthew 4:7, and see Luke 18:31), and said 'Scripture cannot be broken' (John 10:35). Both instances show that Scripture cannot be annulled and made of no account, but God will fulfil what he has spoken.
3. RICH UNDESERVED FAVOUR
And another way is to ask what people think of Jesus' apostles, because they were given authority to teach that the Holy Spirit would reveal to them after Jesus' death, resurrection and ascension (see John 16:12-15). What do they make, for instance, of Paul and his clear teaching on 'repentance towards God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ' (Acts 20:21), of 'being justified by faith', receiving 'peace with God' (Rom. 5:1), freely acquitted of guilt and given the divine verdict 'no condemnation' (Romans 8:1), all this being 'the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes' (Rom. 1:16)? A salvation received as a 'free gift' (Rom. 6:23), including a welcome into the family of God, through the clear promises of such extraordinary good news - the gospel of Christ.
4. CHRIST IS CENTRAL
Do they also clearly teach the character of God and the full deity of Jesus Christ, the eternal Son 'who is God over all, blessed for ever' (Rom. 9:5) and 'the Lord of glory' (1 Corinthians 2:8), who willingly substituted himself in love and mercy to save his people from their sins, by bearing the judgement that was due to them - 'Christ died for the ungodly' (Rom. 5:6), and 'Christ died for our sins' (1 Cor. 15:3), and 'was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification' (Rom. 4:25). One vital truth they will also emphasise is the 'once for all' nature of Christ's sacrifice 'when he offered up himself' (Hebrews 7:27). This powerful truth will be openly shared - Christ's sin-bearing sacrifice is forever finished.
Now, the Holy Spirit of God is applying the fruits that Jesus' death secured as Christians share God's grace - his rich undeserved favour and as people all over the world turn to Christ for salvation. Here, God comes to reach people where they are, to restore them to himself 'to the praise of his glorious grace' (Ephesians 1:6). This will be a Christ-centred gospel, where Jesus Christ is loved and praised, where he is Lord, who has purchased his much-loved people, who 'have redemption through his blood' (Eph. 1:7). Christianity is Christ - 'the same yesterday and today and for ever' (Hebrews 13:8).
5. HUMBLE AND CARING
When you have checked out these beliefs, see if they are praying people, who pray for others, but who still need to confess their own sins (1 John 1:8-9), and who, perhaps are praying for you to come to the Lord Jesus to be your Saviour. And then do 'they love one another' (see John 13:34-35), are the marks of caring, self-giving love present in these people's lives - they won't be perfect and they know it. They won't promise you material prosperity or perfect health, or a miracle every day, but there will be genuineness about them.
Well, how did your checking work out? Have you accepted this simple message of salvation? If you haven't, my prayer is that you soon will!
Michael J. S. Austin, Ph.D. CHRIST FOR YOU TODAY Hello, my big goal is to show that biblical Christianity appeals to careful thinking, and is powerfully relevant today. So, I aim to share the good news of Christ crucified, risen and ascended - a Saviour who is worthy of your full confidence. And I write to help you find faith or to strengthen your faith, so that you may be SURE. I share Evangelical and Reformed convictions and have a Ph.D. from Reformation International Theological Seminary. Use this link to my very latest Amazon Kindle e-book - (very modestly priced): 'FOR SURE! - Assurance and Evangelicalism' http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00AG0WK84 And also, 'I saw Him Die - Viewing Jesus' Death TODAY' http://www.amazon.com/saw-Him-die-Viewing-ebook/dp/B007TX696U/ref=pd_rhf_dp_p_t_2 Read and enjoy, and please recommend to others - Thank you! Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Michael_J._S._Austin,_Ph.D. Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/7451397

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