The Guaranteed Christian
If you're like me, you've heard of, or read of, various plans for success in the Christian life. Some are embodied in how-to books. Others come from biographies of great Christian men. Still others come from pastors, professors, and men with Ph.D's.
Many challenge you to hours of prayer. Or reading through the Bible and/or memorizing large portions of it. Or winning souls for Christ. Or living a life of service to others. And of course, there's the advice given to new Christians: "Read your Bible, pray, witness to others and go to church."
Don't you wish that God had laid out a specific plan for the Christian life? Well, He did! The church, as a whole, has generally ignored this formula and told people that it's unnecessary and "legalism". But we need to come back to this simple formula if we want revival in the church and if we want to make an impact on the world. The formula? Keeping God's commands in the New Testament.
No, we do not need to keep the Old Testament law. However, God did not leave us to live our lives without something to guide us. If Jesus had merely come to die for our sins, God could have let Herod kill Jesus as a baby, and that would have taken care of our sins. But Jesus also came to tell us how to live.
Over His lifetime, Jesus gave us about 120 commands that are recorded in the New Testament (excluding ones like "Take up thy bed and walk"). Then, as His death drew near, He said: "If ye love me, keep my commandments." (John 14:15)
Jesus said previously that the most important command is to love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. Now, He tells us how to show Him that we love Him. A little later, He says: "He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him... If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father's which sent me." (John 14:21, 23-24)
So if we obey Jesus, God will manifest Himself to us. He will love us and He will dwell with us. Acts 5:32 also tells us that God gives the Holy Spirit to those who obey Him.
Do the epistles also apply to us? To answer this question, let's examine two verses:
"...If they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also." (John 15:20b)
"If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord." (1 Corinthians 14:37)
Those who truly obey Jesus will obey His apostles as well. If we think we're spiritual, we need to acknowledge that the commands Paul gave are really the commands of God. If they're the commands of God, then we need to keep them, as the book of 1 John tells us. In that book, through the Apostle John, Jesus gave us some very interesting statements about His commands:
"And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him." (1 John 2:3-5)
"Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous." (1 John 5:1-3)
Right there is your gauge of your love for God: do you keep His commands? Obviously, God's definition of love is different than our usual touchy-feely-feel-nice-to-others love, which we express by singing "Lord, We Love You". Rather, He wants us to obey Him, which will prove that we love Him. In fact, if we do not keep His commands, He says we are liars and do not know Him. That's a very sobering thought.
When we keep God's commands, we will have true success. No more guilty feelings over failing to meet the man-made doctrines that get thrown around. No more wondering if you love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. And you have the guarantee that Jesus will manifest Himself to you, abide with you, and give you the Holy Spirit to guide you into all truth.
Of course, this is not necessarily easy. Jesus says the road that leads to life is narrow and difficult, not a bed of roses. But when Christians faithfully keep His commands, they will be worthy to stand before God on Judgment Day and hear, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant."
The only way to study the Bible is to approach it as God's Word for you today, and with a willingness to keep every single one of God's commands. God wrote the Bible in such a way that those who look for loopholes will find seeming loopholes. Only those who really want to keep God's commands will find the truth and have a close relationship with God.
If Christians will keep all of God's commands, the church will become salty and enlightening to the world. We will become a major force for good in this dark and evil world.
By Joel Horst
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