Is My Christianity Real? Pt. 2

Is My Christianity Real? Pt. 2

Scripture: Lamentations 3:40, Psalms 119:59, Haggai 1:5
Date: 07/14/2018 
Do we know that our Christianity is authentic? We get preoccupied with the actions and forget about our attitude. Part 2 of 2

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Doug Batchelor: Ancient Scandinavian history tells of a fearsome class of Norse warriors called Berserkers. To appear more terrifying, these Berserkers would dress themselves up in the skins of bears, wolves, or other wild animals. Before entering battle, Berserkers whipped themselves into a crazed frenzy, biting their shields and howling like animals, possibly aided by mind-altering drugs. In this trance-like state, they were ferocious fighters impervious to pain. They attacked boulders and trees and sometimes even killed their own people during the rampage. Irrational and violent, they were totally out of control. Of course, these frenzied Scandinavian fighters gave rise to the English word berserk to describe somebody who's overcome with uncontrolled rage.

Now, here's a question. If Christians lose their temper and fly off the handle, are they really Christians? When professed believers act berserk, are we really abiding in Christ? Remember, one of the fruits of the Spirit is self-control. Let's explore this subject together: "Is my Christianity Real?" Doug: And I saw online, they've got a test. I knew it was there, but the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependency created a test after years of research and looking at some of the characteristics, if a person is drinking and they're wondering, "Am I an alcoholic?" They've got a test with 26 questions that you go through. I'll give you an example. I'm not going to read them all to you, and you can find this online. You can take the test and then click results and it'll tell you if you're an alcoholic or if you're a problem drinker, and they can be different levels. Do you avoid family or close friends while you're drinking? Do you drink heavily when you're disappointed, under pressure? Can you handle more alcohol than when you first started to drink? Do you sometimes feel uncomfortable? And each one of these has a yes or no next to it. And if you say yes to a certain percentage of them, it means that you've got problems with your drinking. If you say--I think it's like, you know, 12 or more. If you say yes, you are an alcoholic. And so there's a test.

They've got the questions and you can look at this and you can evaluate. And you might be thinking, "Well, Pastor Doug, is that what it's like to test and see if you're a Christian?" Well, there are questions you can ask. I was really happy when I looked at this 'cause I could say no to all of them 'cause I don't drink. And so the test can be positive and the test can be negative.

But the Bible tells us that there are guidelines that you can go through to evaluate, "Am I a Christian? Is my Christianity real?" We're supposed to use good judgment. Everyone says, "Don't judge." Well, Jesus actually said, "When you judge, judge a righteous judgment." Not only does it say you should examine yourself. Lamentations 3:40, "Let us search out and examine our ways." Again, Psalm 119, verse 59, "I thought about my ways, and I turned my feet to your testimonies."

One of the things that often proceeds our turning back to God is doing a little self-evaluation. The Book of Haggai chapter 1, verse 5, "Now, therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts, 'Consider your ways.'" And so this is what we're doing in this two-part series. We're looking at some of the Bible tests you might go through to do a little healthy self-evaluation and say, "Am I a real Christian?" You know, this sermon bothers people who need it the most. People who say, "I don't want to think about that." "Why?" "I'm afraid I might find something or I might discover that maybe I'm not genuine." What did the disciples say to Jesus? "Lord, is it I? Lord, is it I?" And we need to sometimes ask that question. Luke chapter 13, "Then one said to him, 'Lord, are there few who are saved?' And he said to them, 'Strive to enter in through the narrow gate, for I say to you that many will seek to enter and not be able. When once the master of the house has risen up and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock. You say, 'Lord, Lord--'" They know the Lord's name. They think they're his servants. "'Lord, Lord, open for us.' And he will answer and say, 'I do not know where you are from.' And then you'll begin to say, 'We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets.' But he'll say, 'I tell you, I don't know you, where you're from. Depart from me, all you workers of iniquity.' And there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth."

Now, this is one of many parables that Jesus shares that illustrates there are some who think they are saved and they find out too late that they are not. You got the parable of the ten virgins. Five of them, they think they're going in. They are stopped at the door. "You got the sheep and the goats?" They said, "Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or naked or stranger?" They don't know. You get the wedding phase. You get the parable of the talents. There is several parables where Jesus said, "There's a danger you need to be aware of. While you're alive, while there's mercy, while there's hope, the door is open. Examine yourself. Make sure that you have the real McCoy." Now, don't you want to know? Do you want to find out too late? Proverbs 14:12, "There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end thereof they're the ways of death."

You know who's especially at risk if you don't mind my saying so? Those who have grown up in the church. They think, "I've done this all my life. It's--I know that I know the Lord because my father, my mother, my grandparents, they just--yeah, of course. Of course, he's going to know me. He's going to let me in." And they've almost had just enough religion over their lives to inoculate them against catching the real thing. It's like we had in our study earlier today. The Apostle Paul, he was just so on fire for God and he didn't realize he was on fire against God and he was fighting God and he had that aha moment, but it was in time for him. We want to examine ourselves and know now. Let me give you one more verse, and Paul wrote this. Galatians 6, verse 3, "For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he's nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one examine his own work."

So if you've got a problem with this kind of message, your problem is with the Bible. The Bible is pretty clear that it is healthy for us to periodically do some self-evaluation, to take an inventory, take stock of ourselves and see, "Am I genuinely a Christian?" First of all, do I love the truth? First of all, Jesus is the truth. So I hope you love him. He is the truth embodied. 2 Thessalonians 2:10, "With all unrighteous deception among those who perish," why? "Because they did not receive a love of the truth that they might be saved. And for this cause, God sends them strong delusion that they should believe a lie." God wants us to love the truth. How many times have you met somebody, they grew up believing something, and even though you show them the evidence that is not true, they say, "I don't care. It's what I've always done." They don't love the truth. A person who loves the truth will make difficult decisions to bring their lives in harmony with the truth because it's the truth.

You know, when I first discovered this message, I didn't know--I never met Seventh Day Adventists before. I was just saying, "I don't care. I just want to know what is the truth. What is the truth about life? What's God's purpose?" Because who are we going to answer to in the last days, people's opinions? We're going to answer to the truth, a love of truth. The truth will set you free. So if you're satisfied believing in lies, if you don't cherish truth, if you don't have a desire to share truth-- 1 John 1:7, "But if we walk in the light as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his son cleanses us from all sin." This is what it means to walk in the truth. The truth will set you free. You can't just call something the truth. There is absolute truth.

It's like these reporters were giving Lincoln a hard time, arguing and parsing his words, and there's lot of dishonesty in politics. And so Lincoln, he used to love to tell stories. And he said, "How many legs does a dog have?" And they said, "Four." And Lincoln said, "Now, suppose you call the tail a leg, then how many legs would the dog have?" They said, "Five." He said," No, the dog still is only got four legs." He said, "Just 'cause you call the tail a leg, he can't walk on it." And sometimes we think we can just believe something, and because we believe it we'll just make our own truth. And you've got your truth and I've got my truth. Now, there is a truth and we need to know what that truth is.

So one of the characteristics of Christianity--a real Christian is you love the truth and you want to know what it is and you dig for it in his Word. Do I have regular devotions? Are you spending time in Bible study and prayer? That I think is a good question to ask. If you love the Lord and you want to please him, you should have a hunger, Jesus said, and a thirst for righteousness. Who's going to be filled? The ones who do search, the ones who do hunger and thirst for righteousness. They will be filled. You know, a doctor, when you go for a test, one of the things he might ask you is he'll say, "How is your appetite? You say, "You know, I've got no appetite." Isn't that sometimes a sign there's something wrong? If you have no appetite for the Word of God, if you have no appetite for the presence of God in prayer, if you don't have any hunger for his righteousness, if you're not seeking for his Word, that's not a good sign of spiritual health. Job 23, verse 12, "I have not departed from the commandment of his lips. I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my necessary food." Bible calls it a hunger. Do you have a hunger for the Word of God? Jesus said, "I'm that bread that came down from heaven." Are you hungry for that bread? Jeremiah 15:16. "Thy words were found, and I did eat them. And thy word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart."

You know, the Bible tells us that Martha who was a good believer, a follower of Jesus, she was a servant. And there was a supper in Jesus's honor. It's a good purpose. And she was just busy cooking and storming through the kitchen. And, you know, every church wants to have Marthas in the church because, boy, they make things happen. And if you want something done, give it to Martha. And one day she was preparing for a dinner. She had to keep stepping over Mary, her sister, who was sitting at Jesus's feet listening to Jesus as he was teaching there. Maybe some of the disciples and apostles were in the room with them. And she's looking wistfully into his face and listening to every word, and Martha became a little perturbed. And every time she went through the room, she kind of glare at her sister and Mary ignored her and she kept listening to Jesus.

Finally, Martha had all she could stand and she stopped and she folded her arms and tapped her foot and said, "Lord, don't you see I'm doing all of this serving? I'm making your dinner. Can you tell my sister, younger sister, come and help me." And what did Jesus say? "Martha, Martha, you are weary, worried, and troubled about many things, and one thing is needful and Mary has chosen that better part." That one thing is to seek first God's kingdom. She was sitting at Jesus's feet. We need to spend time at Jesus's feet every day--several times a day in prayer, but at least once a day we should sit down and open the Word.

Am I regular in my church attendance and fellowship with others? Well, I'm probably preaching to the choir right now because you're here, but are you here faithfully? And does that matter? If a person is sporadic and erratic in their regular attendance in worship, these times that God's appointed we should come before him and worship, that is not a good indicator of our spiritual health. The Bible says in Acts chapter 2:46 when God poured out the spirit, "So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness." They came together house to house. They were meeting together all the time to worship God, to study his Word.

If you don't have enough faith to get you to church once a week, you probably don't have enough to get you to heaven. That's a pretty safe guess. And, you know, I've heard some just very spiritual sophisticated excuses, it's what they are, for not going to church. They say, "Well, I keep the Sabbath at home. I've had a rough week." Tell your boss you had a rough week and you're just not coming in. Say, "I had a rough week at church. I'm not coming to work." Reverse that. See if you put God ahead of your boss, how that's going to work? I suspect it won't work very well. Or they say, "Well, it's the Sabbath and God's the creator so I just--I kept the Sabbath in nature." Well, that's lovely after church, but, you know, the Bible calls the Sabbath a holy convocation. That's Leviticus chapter 23. And what does convocation mean? A convening, a coming together. "Six days you shall work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, a holy convocation." The word convocation means assembly. The Sabbath is called a holy solemn assembly. We are to come together. There's something that happens when we corporately worship God, and this is not a suggestion.

Doug: Don't go anywhere, friends. In just a moment, we'll continue with the rest of today's presentation. Have you ever thought that life sometimes seems to be a relentless battle just to stay ahead? You wash the car and then it rains. You have to wash it again. You weed the garden and 2 weeks later, there's a whole new crop of weeds. Well, it's the same way in a Christian's life. Sometimes it seems like when you successfully resist one temptation then another one surprises you from left field. So you might be wondering, how do you stay ahead in the battle with temptation? Does God really expect us to experience consistent victory? Absolutely yes. The Lord wants you to experience a life of joyful victory and triumph. Amazing Facts would like to send you a special book that's called "The Surrender of Self." This short but encouraging book will reveal how to overcome your biggest enemy and experience a consistent life of victory. You'll be amazed by the real changes in your life. To get your free copy, call the number on your screen and ask for offer number 153, or visit the web address. And after you read this incredible resource, make sure and share it with a friend. Well, now let's get back to the rest of today's presentation and learn some more amazing facts from the Word of God.

Doug: Not only where are we to be doing this on earth, the Bible says we're going to do it in heaven. "From one Sabbath to another will all flesh come and worship before me." Those are coming together to worship before God--how many of you want to be in heaven to come together and worship before him there? Do you think it'd be a good idea to practice coming together and worship before him here first? Yeah. You read in Hebrews chapter 10, "Let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works," that's what I'm trying to do, friends, "not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some is--" they had that problem way back in Paul's day. "But exhorting one another." This is called exhortation, what's happening right now. To encourage you, to admonish you, we need to come together. Why? "All the more as you see the day approaching." If you want to look that one up, that's Hebrews chapter 10:24 and 25. And you know what it says in the next verse? "If we continue to sin willfully after we've received the knowledge of the truth--" it calls it willful sin after it talks about coming together to worship him. Says, "If we continue to sin willfully after we've received the knowledge of the truth, there remains no more sacrifice for sin but a certain fearful looking forward to have judgment and fiery indignation."

So you think, you know, Christianity 101 is we go to church. But we're living in the age of American independence and spirituality and they go, "But I'm spiritual. I just going to be spiritual at home." It's often a cop out. People are doing what they want to do. We need to go to church, whether we feel like it or not. Not, I mean, if you're sick, and some people are shut in. Don't misunderstand. A lot of people watch this program at home. They can't go. We understand that. God understands that. But it's when you can and you just don't feel like it or you say, "It looks like it might rain." That never stops people from going to a football game, right?

Is your speech Christ-like? What about your words? That's a gauge where the heart is. Jesus said, "Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks." Let me read this to you. Matthew 12:34, he said, "Brood of vipers. How can you, being evil, speak good things?" He's basically saying there needs to be change in our heart. "For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil things. But I say to you, for every idle word men may speak, they will give an account thereof in the day of judgment--" Does that make you shutter like it does me? "For by your words, you will be justified and by your words you will be condemned."

One of the chief editors of Christianity Today shared a story that they were traveling with a friend from San Francisco to Chicago, and his friend got pulled out of line for one of these random security checks and he ended up getting on the plane last. As he's getting on the plane, he's sitting down next to the editor. The editor says to him, just loud enough for others to hear, "So why did they pull you out of line? Was it your beady eyes or the explosives?" He's just kidding. One of the other passengers heard that. They said something to the flight attendant. The flight attendant put him off the plane. They called airport security and in the process of interrogating him, doing all this research on him, the plane left without him, and finally they realized he was joking, even though it's a real bad idea these days to joke about that. Had to wait in the airport. He said, "It was just a few--"

This is a Christian. A few idle words, but the airport's--the airline companies, they don't take any risk with who they let through the gates of a plane because it could endanger everybody else. Is God less careful about what happens in heaven and getting through his gates? And so you've got to be careful what we say. Bible has a lot to share about this. Ephesians 4:29, "Let no corrupt word proceed from your mouth, but what is good and necessary for edification that you might impart grace to your hearers." Is our speech imparting grace? Or do we say a lot of negative critical things? Someone said, "Be careful with what you do with the tongue. It's a slippery place." James chapter 3, verse 2, "For we all stumble in many things."

So don't get discouraged when you go through the tests and you find there's areas where you stumble. Even James said we all stumble in many things. But he said, "If anyone does not stumble in Word, he is a perfect man." So I probably should have put this further up on the list, huh? If you can control what you say, if you don't engage in gossip or exaggeration--that sometimes is another way of saying lying. If you're honest, if your speech is always calculated to bring glory to God. Colossians 4, verse 6. "Let your speech always be seasoned with grace, seasoned with salt, that you might know how you ought to answer each one."

And so Bible says one of the ways that we can decide, one of the criteria if you're doing your list of evaluating yourself, how do I talk? Now, let's suppose you got a problem with what you talk about. Where do the words come from? Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. So what do you do, muzzle yourself or do you pray that God will give you his spirit and change your heart? And the change of heart will change the words, but words are pretty good criteria. Do I have peace and joy? Is a Christian supposed to be happy? Shouldn't it be--it doesn't mean you're giddy and joking all the time, but it means that there is an abiding peace. There's a depth. This is one of the most sublime evidences of the spirit is peace. Psalm 119, verse 165, "Great peace have they who love thy law, and nothing will offend them." John chapter 14, Jesus said, "My peace I give you, not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."

If you're living in constant fear--and I know some people struggle with anxiety, and there might be medical reasons for that. And I've got some friends that they want to have this biblical peace but they just--they are anxious. They are panicking. But I'll tell you what the Bible says. "Perfect love casts out fear." The Bible says, "The fearful and unbelieving are cast into the lake of fire." Christians ought to have a peace and a joy. The gospel is not sad news, it's not bad news. It's good news. And if we always go around looking like we've been baptized in lemon juice, then nobody's going to want your religion. Someone said, "If your religions made you happy, then you should notify your face." F.B. Meyer said, "Joy is peace dancing, and peace is joy at rest." "The things which you have learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you."

You know, one of the things that's beautiful about the peace of God is that, it's not--the joy of God and the peace of God is not dictated by circumstances. In other words, your circumstances and even your level of, you know, contentment or happiness in that respect may go up and down, but when you know the Lord, you've got an abiding peace and a joy. The circumstances don't change it. The only thing that changes it is when you take your eyes off the Lord. You start to sink. And so we can have that peace. It's God's desire for us to have that peace. Matthew chapter 13:44, "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, when a man finds it and he hides it, and for joy over it he goes and he sells all that he has." Why? 'Cause he got that inner joy. He knows, "Man, I've got a treasure. Nobody knows about the treasure I've got. I've found something that is so valuable." That you're just excited about it. Jesus--John 15:11, "These things I've spoken to you that your joy might remain in you and that your joy might be full."

Billy Sunday said, "If you've got no joy, there's a leak in your Christianity." We need to have that happiness. So Bible says let everyone examine himself whether he's in the faith. How did you do? If you found that there were some areas where there's room for improvement, don't let that trouble you. That is the biggest room in the world, the room for improvement. God wants us to do that because, as I mentioned earlier, being a Christian it's not a sprint. It's a marathon and it's like running a farm. You need to start over every day.

Have you ever driven by a house of somebody and they got just a beautiful garden and their house and the yard is always beautiful? And you think, "How do they keep their house and the yard so beautiful?" It's because they are constantly weeding. They're constantly out there. They are pruning. They are weeding. They're investigating. They're evaluating. This is what it's like to be a Christian. There is maintenance involved. The Bible says, on a regular basis, you need to evaluate, you need to examine yourself. It doesn't say examine your beliefs 'cause you say, "I got good beliefs." No, he said examine yourself. That means, are you walking the walk of a Christian? Because the worst thing that could happen is for you to neglect that healthy self-examination and come to the great judgment day, Jesus has given us so many parables to warn us against waiting until it's too late, and to hear him say, "I don't know you." I want to hear him say, "Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of the Lord."

Christians can have assurance about the relationship with the Lord if they do the regular maintenance, if they will take stock, if they will do inventory with the Holy Spirit and then make the adjustments as God shows it to them. They can have peace. They can have assurance based on the promise of God and the power of God, but we also need to be faithful with ourselves.

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