Believers in Christ are the disciples of Christ. Non-believers are not disciples of Christ. There is no in-between. There is no half-way house. You are either in or you are out.
Which are you?
The Lord Jesus Himself gave us ample information as to who is His disciple.
“It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household?” (Mat 10:25).
“The disciple is not above his master: but every one that is perfect shall be as his master.” (Luke 6:40).
“Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed.” (John 8:31).
“43 Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word. 44 Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it. 45 And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not.” (John 8:43-45).
The beloved disciple echoed his Lord as he tells all those who will listen that:
“He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.” (1John 2:6).
You are only His disciple if you abide in His commandments.
I often hear some people say that you cannot actually know that a person is truly a Christian.
But the believer in Christ is commanded to correct fellow believers in love and to avoid being entangled with the ungodly.
If the believer cannot distinguish between fellow believers and unbelievers, “how is the believer then expected to witness to unbelievers?” How is the believer to avoid being “yoked with the unbeliever?”
The believer in Christ is not to determine the eternity of the ungodly for that is wholly the prerogative of God.
The believer is only to distinguish the holy from the profane with the guideline given by Holy Scripture. This is so he can live a life pleasing to God and as much as is possible, to be at peace with others.
Hence, it is contrary to the Holy Scriptures to say we cannot distinguish the believer from the unbeliever for we are instructed as to the characteristics of a genuine Christian as far as human beings are concerned. The Christian is not to determine the status of another human been as to his/her eternal destiny. No human being determines who goes to heaven or hell only God does.
Rather, as we live in the world, though not of the world we live in the world and have to interact with fellow human beings. It is because of such interactions and the relationships that will develop therein that believers who also are the disciples of Christ are instructed as to the traits to expect in a disciple of Christ and to aspire to, and those traits to expect in the unbeliever and to avoid or do away with in their own lives. We are then to relate on the basis of how the life of the individual correlates with what the word of God commands.
Saying someone is not a believer or saying that a believer is not living through to the faith of Christianity is not judging in the sense of condemnation for only God can judge at that level. The Christian will only be determining the type and depth of both the interaction and relationship he wants to have with the other person according what he understands from Holy Scripture.
However we may look at it and however it may sound in the ears of modern-day humans the truth is the Holy Scripture clearly distinguishes between the children of God and the children of the devil. It is our wisdom and for our own good to follow the instructions of the word of God.
I encourage the doubters to read the whole of the book of 1John for a start and then go over the rest of Scripture.
The true believer in Christ is one who has been saved and who has committed to become a life-long disciple of Christ.
The term “professor” here is not referring to an academician with a high and valuable degree in an area of study. Rather, in terms of the Christian faith, the professor is the one who professes to be a Christian by mouth but whose lifestyle is in every way contrary to word of God.
The professor is an unbeliever who associates closely with the church. He is comfortable in church and the gathering of believers. He easily passes as a believer because through long association he has imbibed the mannerisms of genuine believers.
Meanwhile here is just a sampling of some of the distinguishing traits of the professor or unbeliever who associates with the church:
Concerning the Holy Bible,
An unregenerate person (a Christian professor or unbeliever) may read the Holy Scriptures but will still not have faith. Though such ones may even take to studying the Holy Bible they will not be better than other unbelievers who have nothing to do with Christianity as they will have no life of God in them.
A professor of Christianity may have a reading plan and even read several chapters of the word of God every day and yet never appropriate a verse of Scripture. The person simply does not see the bible as the word of God but more of an interesting literature from which to occasionally snatch a word or passage interesting to him to use as motivation.
In Listening and Hearing
A carnal professor will usually boast of having attended numerous conferences: I was in this conference and that conference; I have been under the ministration of or heard numerous popular preachers.
He comes out of each meeting extoling how powerful the message was, but he never seems to be affected by the power he claimed to be present.
He may have and be listening to many sermons every Sunday and indeed all weekdays as well year-in year-out. Yet several years down the road he is still as spiritually dead as the first day he was in church. Such reckon their spiritual status by the number of years since they have been coming to church or since they became associated with Christianity.
Such are the ones who are ever hearing, never understanding and never coming to the knowledge of the truth. Rather, they are hardened without even realising that they had become impervious to the word of God.
The sentences flow from his lips as readily as that of a person with verbal diarrhoea. He has a very impressive repertoire of pleasant-sounding phrases and words. Scripture verses seem to run through his mind as freely as a dam breaking its bounds, they just gush out in torrents.
They are adept at saying nice prayers which are just mere meaningless words. They think prayer is for show: how much you can shout, stamp your feet on the ground and jump around sweating like a turkey who knows he is the next at the dinner table.
Observing them at prayer you may be tempted to think they are the offspring of Baal worshipers in action as in the days of Elijah!
The Christian professor can talk glibly and frequently orthodoxly of doctrines, yes and of worldly things too. He switches smoothly between the two according to his mood, according to his audience and according to the perceived advantage and filthy lucre he is after at the moment. To him nothing seems too sacred to peddle. In his attempt to display knowledge, he only often exposes his ignorance of spiritual things and his unbelief.
I have heard some people say it does not matter how you dress or speak as long as you have Christ in your heart. Such are either ignorant or deceitful because what is inside is reflected by what is happening outside. One even said, “I am a Christian but not religious and I worship nobody” What a confused mind!
Can you be a Christian and not worship the Lord Jesus Christ?
Please remember this:
As it is internally so it is externally. What is resident within the heart is reflected on the outside. The heart in which the Lord Jesus Christ reigns will be productive of fruits that are in keeping with the character of Christ. Hence, the difference is just as real between the genuine Christian and the mere professor in their daily lives.
And remember this too:
Faith applies the whole of the Word of God in all its glorious detail and authority. Hence:
- Faith applies the fearful threatening of the Word of God and trembles before
- Faith applies the warnings of the Word of God and endeavours to obey them.
- Faith applies the precepts of the Word of God and looks unto God for the grace to be able to walk in them.
And this faith is what distinguishes the genuine Christian from the professor, the one who is one in name only. But this faith is also the genuine faith too. This genuine faith cannot be worked up or be exercised at will, nor can it be legislated by law or be forced on a person by anyone. This is the faith that is God-given: it is a gift. This is the Holy Spirit-given and Holy Spirit-moulded faith in the heart.
This is not the mere head-knowledge and intellectual assent to the truth that the carnal professor may possess.
Rather the divine faith is a living, spiritual and vital trait. It is:
- the faith which “purifies the heart” (Acts 15:9);
- the faith “which worketh by love” (Gal 5:6);
- the faith that “overcometh the world” (1 John 5:4).
- This faith is the faith that is divinely rooted and sustained in the midst of trials within and opposition without.
- This is the faith that makes its possessor to exclaim:
- “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him” (Job 13:15),
- “For I know that my Redeemer liveth” (Job 19:25).
It is not a common faith for it is found only among those who genuinely belong to God. Where it is, it cannot but be manifested!
Do you have this genuine faith?
If not begin to pray for it for you may actually have labelled yourself “a Christian” while in reality you do not belong in the household of God.
Please diligently observe that this divine faith is not always exercised nor is it equally strong at all times. However, the genuine Christian who possesses it must be taught through experience which is often painful, that, as he did not originate it neither can he command it at will and therefore he must turn to its author and originator for the needed sustenance. He must often turn to God and say “Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief” (Mark 9:24).
And therefore in contrast with the carnal professor, we see with the genuine Christian with this divine faith that:
- when reading the Word he is enabled to lay hold of its precious promises;
- when bowing before the Throne of Grace, he is enabled to cast his burden upon the Lord;
- when he rises to go about his temporal duties, he is enabled to lean upon the everlasting arms;
- and when he is made to pass “through the valley of the shadow of death”, he will triumphantly cry “I will fear no evil for Thou art with me.” (Ps 23:4).
O Lord our God grant us the divine faith that has been the privilege of all your saints through the ages that our lives may truly begin to “shew forth the praises of him who hath called us out of darkness into his marvellous light” (1Pet 2:9). And Father have mercy upon the mere professors as your Holy Spirit convicts them of sin and brings them to repentance and salvation in Jesus’ Name, Amen.