We have this vast gift of eternal life that God has bestowed upon us.
This vast, vast, immeasurably wonderful gift that God has given to us, and we are the humble recipients of that. Thank you for joining us on The Truth Pulpit with Don Green, founding pastor of Truth Community Church in Cincinnati, Ohio. I'm Bill Wright, and today Don continues to teach God's people God's Word.
He's in his series titled, So You Call Yourself a Christian. You'll hear part two of the message, The Christian and Non-Christian Contrasted. Last time, Don painted a portrait of the non-believer, characterized by the wrong life, the wrong loves, and the wrong Lord. Today you'll get the other side of the coin, the characteristics of a true believer. Our text comes once again from 1 John chapter 4, so turn there in your Bible, and let's join Pastor Don Green right now in The Truth Pulpit. Christians marked by a right life, there's actual living obedience to Christ shown in his life.
Look at chapter 3 verse 7, little children, make sure no one deceives you. The one who practices righteousness is righteous. The practice of his practice is practical righteousness. It's not theoretical. It's not academic. There's an academic element to it. There's an intellectual understanding to it, sure. But the heart of the Christian says, it's more than, it's more than knowledge to me.
This is my life. Secondly, true Christian is marked by the right love. True Christian is marked by the right love. Look at chapter 2 verse 10. Chapter 2 verse 10, when we say the Christian is marked by the right love, we're saying that the Christian delights in loving other Christians. He delights in the fellowship of believers. He finds himself at home with those who love Christ. Chapter 2 verse 10, the one who loves his brother abides in the light and there is no cause for stumbling in him.
Look over at chapter 3 verse 14. We know that we have passed out of death into life because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death. True Christian finds his warmest companionship, the most sympathetic desires, shared desires with other people in the company of the family of God. Being around Christians is a delight.
There is an echo of heart affections that produces a natural affinity in human relationships. That is the mark of a true Christian. This is the right love. If you're a child of God, you will love the other children in his family. That's the mark of a true Christian. Thirdly, a portrait of a true Christian is that he has the right Lord.
He has the right Lord. The true Christian confesses the true Christ and follows him. Look at 1 John chapter 2 verse 23 again. First John chapter 2, true Christians marked by the right life, the right love, the right Lord. Verse 23 of chapter 2, the one who confesses the Son has the Father also. Chapter 4 verse 2, by this you know the Spirit of God. Every Spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God.
So you know, and this is in some ways the real starting point of it all. You ask yourself, am I a Christian? Well start with what do you believe about Christ? What do you believe about the Gospel?
Don't start by looking for the external manifestations of obedience in your life. That could be nothing more than just trusting in your own works. Start with the question, do I believe in Christ? Do I believe the Gospel? Do I believe that Jesus Christ alone is the Savior of humanity? That there is no other Savior besides Him? Do I believe that without Christ I would be eternally lost? That there's nothing that the works of my hands could do by which I might be saved? Do you believe that?
Do you believe that Christ suffered the penalty for your sin on the cross? Do you believe that? Do you embrace that? Do you lean on that? Do you trust in that exclusively as your hope of righteousness before God?
That's where it starts. That's the true Lord. That's the true Christ. That He wasn't, oh listen, it's not that He was just a good teacher. It wasn't that He was some kind of prophet only.
It wasn't that He was a moral example and we are supposed to follow in His footsteps. Well that's a wrong view of Christ. The right view of Christ is to say, He is the Son of God come from heaven to save me from my sins and He did it on the cross. The work was accomplished. He said it is finished and as I rest my confidence in Him alone, the work is finished on my behalf as well. Glory, hallelujah!
I have a Savior who is perfect in His person, perfect in His work and my salvation is secure in Him because He is the object of my soul trust for the well-being of my soul and the forgiveness of my sin. That's the right Lord. That's the right faith in Christ.
So there you have it, two mirrors. Look in one mirror, you see the non-Christian. Wrong life, wrong love, wrong lords. You look in the mirror, you see the true Christian. Right life marked by a pattern, a direction of obedience to Christ and to His Word. The right love, finding home in the people of God. The right Lord, understanding the redemptive work of Christ and trusting in that alone. As you look, which mirror is reflecting your spiritual face?
You know what? Nothing else matters in the answer to that question. It doesn't matter what's happening in an eternal sense.
It doesn't matter what's happening with our health, with our wealth, with our problems of this life. Beloved, don't you see that we're not going to care about any of that stuff when we're face to face with God? That none of that stuff is going to matter when the sole question that matters is, as you stand in the presence of your judge, is whether your sins have been forgiven and you have a righteousness to your account that satisfies the demands of His law. Nothing else matters, beloved.
Nothing else matters. If I die in a car accident going home tonight, it doesn't matter, provided that my soul is right with Christ. Because the worst thing that could happen to you in a human loss of life is in one sense the best thing that could happen to you because it's the vehicle that ushers you into the immediate presence of your Savior never to be abandoned again.
Not that He ever abandoned us to begin with, but I just say that to impress upon you the urgency of this. Now here's a question. You Christians in the audience, welcome to the family of God as it were. Isn't it good to be in the family of God?
Well that wasn't really my question, I'm just being rhetorical at that point. Here's the real question. If you are a Christian and you see yourself in the mirror of the portrait of a true Christian and you're rejoicing in that, and your heart is flooded with joy and assurance today knowing that you belong to Christ and that He belongs to you, here's the question. If you are a Christian, how is it that you have come to obtain this new life? How is it that you stand in such an inestimably wonderful position as to be secure in Christ with your sins forgiven, with a perfect righteousness credited to your account, and that you can know that your war with God is over and that He has declared peace with your soul?
How did you ever get to that wonderful position? Beloved, follow me here as we walk through this really closely. Understand and humble your heart under the scriptural testimony that it was not because you decided to do good. We were all equally lost with those who are still outside of Christ.
Scripture makes that plain. You were dead in your trespasses and sins. You were alienated from God. You and I were the rebels. How is it then that we went from being a rebel, an enemy of God? How is it that we came from that realm and now find ourselves a friend of God, a brother with Christ, with a brother in heaven who is interceding for us before the eternal throne of God in an unbroken way that secures our redemption until that final day?
How did that ever happen? Well, it wasn't because you decided to do good, beloved. Jeremiah 13 verse 23, you don't have to turn there, but you can jot the reference down. And Jeremiah 13 verse 23 says, can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard his spots? Then you also can do good who are accustomed to doing evil. We were walking in sin, walking in evil and rebellion and just like a leopard, can't change his spots. Just like an Ethiopian can't change the color of his skin, you couldn't change your spiritual nature to please a holy God. You couldn't.
How did it happen then? How is it that you became a Christian? Well, this is gloriously wonderful for those of us in Christ that will simply humble ourselves before the Word of God that will gladly surrender any claim of credit or merit to our account. This is great.
It just means you can't boast in it. How is it that you became a Christian? Point number three, it was because of the work of the Spirit of God on your heart.
It was the work of the Spirit. Come back to the text that I opened with reading here today, 1 John 4 verse 13. How is it that you came to know Christ?
How is it that you know now that you are in him? Blessed word from the Spirit of God in 1 John chapter 4 verse 13. By this we know that we abide in him and he in us because he has given us of his Spirit.
When God drew you to himself, he changed you. The Holy Spirit addresses the need of the unsaved man at every point, and this letter of 1 John makes that clear. We are the recipient. We are the beneficiaries of a sovereign work of the Spirit of God on our heart that we could not have compelled by anything that we did, that we could not have deserved, that we could not have asked for because we had forfeited our standing before a holy God to ask for anything from him.
You and I are the beneficiaries of undeserved sovereign free grace. And you can see that in the book of 1 John. What did the Spirit of God do? The Spirit of God brought you the right life. The Spirit of God, by his omnipotent power when he came on to work on your heart, he brought the right life orientation to you. Look at 1 John chapter 2 verse 29. Trace it back, oh beloved, trace it back beyond the external things that you see in your outward life.
Trace it back beyond the internal desires of your heart. Trace it back to the source and give glory to the source and understand that it is glory to God, not glory to you. First John chapter 2 verse 29. If you're in Christ and you're living the right life as we've defined it here, where did that come from?
Oh, look at chapter 2 verse 29. If you know that he is righteous, if you know that Christ is righteous, you know that everyone also who practices righteousness is born of him. The point of origin, beloved, of your new life was not your decision to trust in Christ. The point of origin, the originating source, came from the work of the Spirit of God.
It was the Spirit of God who brought his power to bear upon your sinful heart, not you bringing your sinful heart to bear upon the Holy Spirit. You're born of God. Your parents gave physical birth to you. The Spirit of God gave spiritual birth to you. And one of the marks of that is the right life of obedience that reflects the character of the one who gave birth to you. The Holy Spirit brought the right life to you.
Everyone who practices righteousness is born of God. Secondly, what can we say about the Spirit of God? He brought you the right love.
He brought you the right love. Look at chapter 4 verse 7. Chapter 4 verse 7. In this most familiar verse, and sometimes it's the verses that are most familiar where you're on your shakiest ground in terms of understanding the import of what they really mean because you assume you know simply because you've known it for so very long.
Will Spirit of God give us fresh eyes to see this verse here in the context in which we're discussing it? Chapter 4 verse 7, beloved, let us love one another. Your love is from God, there's the source, and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God, the originating source of the love that you have for other Christians in your life. The originating source of your love for God is not from the dead and tattered shreds of your unregenerate heart. It comes from the Spirit of God in an invisible but very demonstrable way. He came to bear upon your life somehow through the testimony of the Word of God and awakened your heart to new life, awakened your heart to the things of the Spirit, and put in you the seeds of those desires to love the people that He did a similar work in as well. Look at it again with me at the end of verse 7, everyone who loves is born of God.
If you and I are loving each other, trace it back to the source. The source was a work of God, a work of the Spirit on your heart. This work that we in months gone by discussed at length, the work of regeneration. God gave you a new heart. God made you a new man in Christ and the outworking of that in the time that followed is simply an outworking, an overflow, the fruit of Him giving birth to you in a spiritual sense. Finally, the Holy Spirit brought to you the right Lord, the right Lord.
He brought the person of Christ to you in power. Look at chapter 5 verse 1, chapter 5 verse 1, whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and whoever loves the Father loves the child born of Him. It's the same construction in each verse, you didn't start to obey and then God gave you the new birth, that would be work salvation, we don't believe that because the Bible doesn't teach that. You didn't acquire salvation by starting to love other Christians and you loved Christians and then that gave the Spirit cause to bring the new birth to you.
Well understand it's the exact same construction that we see here. In chapter 5 verse 1, what this verse is teaching us is if you find yourself in life and you believe in the true Christ in the way that we've talked about throughout this message here, that the originating source of that motivating power in your heart, the motivating power of that belief came from the Holy Spirit at His first initiative. Chapter 4 verse 19, we love because He first loved us. And in that way God gets all the glory. In that way the work belongs to Him, the certainty, the perfection, the ultimate accomplishment of the work rests in the person of God, not in what we do. And so you ask yourself as you look in that mirror and say, I see my portrait, I see my face in the mirror of the true Christian, oh it's smudged and it smeared a little bit and yeah it needs to be cleaned up even more. But I see myself in that mirror, I see myself in that spiritual mirror. You find yourself, beloved, in that blessed position with the affirmation of the Spirit of God on the excitement of your human heart saying, that's me. And the Spirit says, yes, that's you. Understand that you and I enjoy that glorious position because the Spirit of God brought it to us in His matchless grace and applied it to our hearts and made it real in a way that we could never have done in ourselves.
You could have lived 10,000 lives of 80 years each and you never could have purged the controlling power of sin from your heart. Oh beloved, don't you see it? We have this vast gift of eternal life that God has bestowed upon us. This vast, vast, immeasurably wonderful gift that God has given to us and He did it by His power, by His choice, by His love, and by His grace.
And we are the humble recipients of that. The Spirit of God came and saved you, indwelled you, transferred you to a different realm, and imparted a new nature to you that changed your affections. Beloved, think about it this way. If you're a Christian here today, this statement is utterly true.
God claimed you for Himself. Blessed truth, glorious opportunity to respond in love and praise. What does that do to our hearts? Well, it brings humility for such undeserved mercy. It brings joy in the knowledge of the forgiveness of sin and beloved, Mark this last point, beloved, that undeserved mercy provokes in our hearts a total, unconditional, unqualified allegiance to the one who brought that salvation to us. Brings us to a point of unconditional allegiance to the Lord Jesus Christ, that there is no call that He would make on our life that was too high to follow, that there was no price of suffering for Him that was too great to pay, that there was no call of obedience, that we would say, oh Lord, that's just a little bit too much. Don't you understand, beloved, that when you understand the greatness of salvation and understand the free grace that brought it to you, that it brings you to a place of blessed, utter, total submission to Christ that says in every area, repeatedly throughout life, constantly without reservation, oh God, not my will, but thine be done. God is our blessed privilege of responding to this incalculable gift of the Spirit that God has bestowed on those of us who know Christ. Christ is calling you today. He says, come to me, all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
Have you been agitated over your spiritual condition? Do you know that you're lost in sin? Hear the word of Christ. Christ is calling you right now, urgently, through His own word, saying, come to me, come to me, I'll give you rest. Oh, my friend, come to Christ, He has never turned away a sinner who truly comes to Him and He never will.
My friend, don't assume that you have tomorrow. Receive Christ today and enter into the kingdom of God as a gift of His grace. The true Christian is characterized by a life aligned with God's will.
Our affections also line up with what pleases God, and we know who the one and only true God is. Well, friend, we hope you've been edified by what you've learned today. Next time, Pastor Don Greene presents more of our series, So You Call Yourself a Christian, here on the Truth Pulpit. Don't miss a moment.
Right now, Don's back here in studio with some closing comments. Friend, one of the things that I'm always mindful of when I'm here in studio is I'm mindful that there are people out in the audience that are like I used to be, thinking that they were Christians but not really having the life of God in their soul. You've perhaps read the Bible or gone to church, but you've never really turned your life to Christ in repentance and saving faith.
I was like that. I know what it's like to be self-deceived. I just encourage you, if you've just viewed Christianity as something kind of casual and not all that important, my friend, examine yourself.
See if you're truly born again and let that work of God in your heart lead you to truth, lead you to the Scriptures so that you would enter into the profound life that belongs only to those who are true Christians. Thanks, Don. And friend, we invite you to visit thetruthpulpit.com. There you'll find information about free CDs of Don's teaching and also a link to Don's Facebook page. Again, that's thetruthpulpit.com. I'm Bill Wright, and we'll see you next time when Don Green continues teaching God's people God's word from the truth pulpit.
Whisper: small.en / 2022-11-09 08:51:12 / 2022-11-09 08:56:06 / 5