Last week’s Editorial asked, “Are you a GOOD Christian?” This week, let us ask, “Are we REAL Christians?” If you answered “yes,” how do you know?
Are we real Christians because we believe in God and Christ? James 2:19 says “… Even the demons believe…” Clearly, demons are NOT Christians. So just believing in the existence of God does not make us real Christians.
Does observing the weekly Sabbath and the annual Holy Days and Festivals like the Passover make us real Christians? 1 Corinthians 11:27 says it is possible to observe the Passover in the wrong way and “…be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.” So just observing God’s weekly and annual Festivals and Holy Days, even though necessary, does not make us real Christians.
What if our knowledge of God’s truth is superior to others? What if we have a better understanding of prophecy; a more perfect grasp of the mysteries of the Bible; and if we are more full of faith than others? Surely these things alone make us real Christians, right? Wrong! 1 Corinthians 13:2 says it is possible to have ALL of these things and STILL be “nothing” in the eyes of God, if something else is missing.
The truth is that neither praying (Matthew 6:5; 23:14); preaching (Psalm 50:16; 1 Corinthians 9:27); fasting (Isaiah 58:3-5; Matthew 6:16); tithing (Luke 11:42; 18:12); giving (Matthew 6:1-2); nor even giving up our life under certain circumstances (1 Corinthians 13:3); are enough, to make us real Christians in God’s eyes, which are the only eyes that count. Of course, right prayer; right fasting; right tithing; right giving, including our very lives; and right preaching by those who are commissioned by God to preach; ARE absolutely necessary; but God must see something else in us to consider us real Christians.
In this Editorial, we will be discussing three most important attributes which must be present in our lives, if we want to be real Christians.
Firstly, the Bible clearly shows that real Christians must speak the truth (Ephesians 4:15, 25); walk in truth (2 John 1:4); and worship in truth (John 4:23-24). What is more, 2 Thessalonians 2:10 shows it is not possible to be saved without a deep and genuine LOVE of the truth.
When God looks at us, does He see real Christians that love and cherish the opportunity to know His truth? Turning to and studying the verses quoted in our weekly Updates, member letters and booklets, as well as listening attentively to our weekly and annual messages in services, may be one good way to show how much we are eager to learn the truth.
Secondly, God has demonstrated immeasurable love for us. He sent His Son to die for us (John 3:16). He offered us, as a gift, eternal life (Romans 6:23); and He prepared an unending future of peace and abundance for us (Matthew 25:34; 1 Corinthians 2:9); all while we were sinners and enemies against Him (Romans 5:8, 10). He called us or picked us out (1 Corinthians 1:26); He washed us off (1 Corinthians 6:11); and He made it possible for us to be in His Family (1 John 3:1-2).
How have we responded?
Does God see an unmistakable love of Him and His ways in us; or does He see us leaning towards a love of the world and its ways? The Bible is clear that we cannot have it BOTH ways (James 4:4; 1 John 2:15-16). We must either grow in the fervent love of God and His ways (Mark 12:30; 1 John 2:5; 2 John 6; Deuteronomy 10:12-13); or we are NOT real Christians (1 John 2:4).
Thirdly, why does the Bible talk so much about love and law? Quite simply, because God IS love (1 John 4:8), and “this IS the love of God, that we keep His commandments” (1 John 5:3). Love fulfills His law–God’s love in us KEEPS it to the FULLEST (Galatians 5:14; Romans 13:8). Love is the PURPOSE or AIM of His law (1 Timothy 1:5). When we keep the law in the right way and with the right motives, we show how much we love God. And, as Matthew 22:36-40 explains, all the law and the prophets hang on the two great commandments—to love God and to love our neighbor. Love and the law are inseparable.
But it is not possible to fulfill the first great commandment to love God if we do not fulfill the second commandment to love our neighbor. 1 John 4:20-21 makes this plain: “If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, HOW CAN HE love God whom he has not seen? And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also.”
What’s more, Christ Himself not only commands us to love our brethren (John 13:35; 1 Peter 1:22) and those who love us (Luke 6:32-33), but to demonstrate HIS gentle, heartfelt and merciful love towards ALL, including those who do not love us in return (Luke 6:27-35). Paul left us a moving example of this in 2 Corinthians 12:15: “And I will very gladly spend and be spent for your souls; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I am loved.”
The commandments to love are comprehensive and inescapable. We are commanded to bear with others in love (Ephesians 4:2); to speak the truth to others in love (Ephesians 4:15); and to let ALL that we do to everyone be done in love (1 Corinthians 16:14).
Whether it is a love of the truth; a love of God; or a love for others; we are commanded to walk in love as Christ walked (1 John 2:6; Ephesians 5:2). If God’s Spirit lives in us (Romans 8:9) and we really do and grow in these things, we not only can assure our hearts before God (1 John 3:18-19), but we can assure ourselves that we are real Christians.