About a year ago, Michelle and I rescued a dog from an Animal Shelter. Her name is Faith, and she has a beautiful gentle nature. But she does not like men. We believe this is the result of being abused in her previous home. She is fine with women she does not know and quickly accepts a pat, but it takes her some time to approach or accept attention from a human male.
So you can imagine my apprehension when she was out and so were two of my neighbors. A middle-aged man and his stepdaughter who identifies as being male. How do I explain to them that they may think the younger neighbor is male, but my dog has no idea of what it means to be ‘Politically Correct’?
Now that this moment has passed, I am sure you can see both the irony and the humor of it.
However it is not so much ‘gender confusion’ that concerns me, but ‘Christian Confusion’ that I see as an even more pressing issue. The fact is, that if I went out and asked 100 people, “What is a Christian?” I would get a multitude of answers. That is a concern, for why would anyone choose to become a Christian, if they did not truly know what a Christian is.
Now if I went into an average Church, and asked the same question, I doubt that ‘Church People’ would be all that much better. I would expect that in most Churches, less than 10% of the Congregation would be able to nail the answer. Our Churches are infested with ‘Christian Confusion’.
In working through Romans, the answer becomes abundantly clear. In Romans 8:9, we read, “… but if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not of Him.” It could not be any plainer. The indwelling of God’s Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Christ, is the ‘litmus test of Christianity’. If you are born again of the Holy Spirit, you are a Christian. If you have not been born of the Spirit, you are not Christian and you are perishing.
There are two ways in which people seek to be saved, to ways in which people seek to become ‘Christian’. However, only one way is approved by God. There is the way of ‘merit’, and there is the way of ‘faith’. Faith saves and merit fails.
So what is merit? Merit is trying to earn God’s favor by our actions. It is trying to save ourselves. It is coming before God and hoping to be accepted by Him on the basis that we merit being saved by our goodness. Merit uses religious service, good deeds and the favors of others, to be accepted. It is a bit like my confused neighbor. She can cut her hair short, strap her chest and wear men’s clothing. She can use all the claptrap of modern philosophy and even get the law of the land on her side. Yet that will not change one strand of her DNA or my dog’s opinion. She was born female and she will die a female.
The same goes for a Christian, a Christian is born of God. Without that spiritual DNA, you are just kidding yourself.
How then does a person become born of God?
Let me show you the way.
1. It is found through faith. (Rom 1:17b – The just shall live by faith)
2. Agree with God that you are a sinner. (Rom 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God) If you protest that you are a good person, then you are coming to God on your merit and not through faith in Jesus.
3. Accept God’s judgment. (Rom 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus)
4. Confess with your mouth and believe with your heart that Jesus is Lord, you shall be saved. (Romans 10: 9-11, 13)
5. Rejoice, because God answers the prayer of faith. (Romans 8:1 For there is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.)