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Life: Can You Pass the Test?
Discernment is the ability to tell right from wrong. Today, many people say that "God wouldn't let good people go to hell." Many think that God will grade our lives on a curve; like tests in school, we'll do okay as long as we have more right than wrong. But, God grades us from a totally different perspective: 100% to Pass, any less you Fail. We need to use discernment to distinguish the right answers from the rest. The essentials of Biblical Christianity are summarized in life's two most important questions:
1. Who is the Real God?
2. How can we be saved?
The Bible is the bottom line by which true Christians determine God's absolute truth. It is also our standard for exposing and refuting false doctrine which attacks the Body of Christ. (Eph. 5:11, Titus 1:9, Jude 3). Just as with becoming a good automobile driver, we must study to learn the answers to the test of life. It takes time to really know the Word of God.
Television has contributed much to confusion concerning God's true salvation and how to get it. Today in America, we are taught unbiblical principles from the secular news media, "Christian TV," and some-times even in our own churches. How do we sort out the truth from the error? The Bible is our answer. If what we hear does not line up with the Bible, we must go with the truth. It is therefore important to become proficient at correctly discerning Biblical truth (rightly dividing the word of truth) (2 Tim. 2:15; 3:16).
A few years ago, very few pastors taught false doctrine and most people knew enough to stay away from them.
Today, people can become preachers without a thorough working knowledge of the Word of God. Many of our modern seminaries don't teach the Word of God as the basis of Christianity any more. Some seminaries teach future pastors that the Bible can not be trusted. They are taught unbiblical stands on issues such as abortion, homosexuality, sex outside of marriage, or salvation without the biblical Jesus Christ.
Instead of standing against false religions, many people who claim to be Christians are more interested in love, peace and unity at all costs than truth at all costs. They might even accept non-Christians as church members because of their education, occupation, or social status. When pastors oppose the teachings of the Bible, it becomes difficult for their followers to discover the real truth that comes from God. Today, there are many groups and individuals claiming to be "Christian" that failto teach God's true answers to life's most important questions. Because of these problems it is extremely important that we know clearly what true Biblical Christianity is.
Law 1. The identity of God.
Law 2. God's method of salvation.
These two principles define the foundation on which God's true church is built. If we disagree on these basic principles, we are not truly saved and are not brothers in the real Christ Jesus.
Who is the Real God?
The proper answer to this question is the first step in our search for salvation. The identity of the true God is the key that opens the door to knowing the true God. Jesus built his church on the solid rock of the true God.
Who is the Biblical God?
In Isaiah 43:10, God states that there is no god formed before Him nor will there be one after Him. In Isaiah 44:6&8, God says that He doesn't know of any other god in existence. These verses establish that there is only one true God in existence in all of creation from all eternity to all eternity. This means that true biblical Christianity is monotheistic (meaning a belief that only one God exists). This one true God is revealed in the following three Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
Is the Father God?
The Father is called God many times in the Bible. Jesus said that the Father is Spirit and a spirit doesn't have flesh and bone (John 4:23-24; Luke 24:39). When Jesus prayed, he prayed to God his Father. When his parents missed him, they found him in God's temple which Jesus called his Father's house (Luke 2:49). When Jesus taught his apostles to pray, he taught them to pray to "our Father in Heaven." (Matthew 6:9) The Father is called God many times by Jesus Christ.
Who is Jesus Christ?
Herod the Tetrarch asked a very important question, "Who is this man I have heard so much about?" Being a ruler, he could have called almost any eye witness to find out just who this Jesus really was. He could have called Jesus' mother Mary or any of the disciples to tell him who Jesus was. However, his simplest solution would have been to ask John the Baptist whom he later had beheaded. It appears that he never got an accurate answer to his question.
It is interesting to note that Jesus taught his disciples using essentially the same question (Matthew 16:13- 20). In verse 13, he asks, "Whom do men say I, the son of man, am?" and in verse 15, "Whom do you say that I am?" It is obvious from their answer that the men of the world did not know Jesus (verse 14). Peter answers the question with the proper identification:
"Thou art the Christ (Messiah) the Son of the living God." Had he given an incorrect answer such as the identification the world made, he would have been just as lost. Peter's answer is not only accurate but profound. He is saying that Jesus is not just some ordinary person. Rather, he is saying that Jesus is the anointed one of God, who has come from God to save his people. He is saying that Jesus is exactly who God said he would be.
Christology is the study of who Jesus is and what He has said and done. This topic of study is essential to establishing the true identity of the real Jesus. This concept is commonly called the person (his nature and character), work, and word of Jesus Christ. If you redefine who Jesus is or what he has said and done, you have defined a different Jesus. What if I deny that he died on a cross, claim he didn't raise from the dead, say he wasn't born of a virgin, and didn't pick any apostles? How many things that he did do I need to deny before you tell me that I have redefined Jesus? Where do you draw the line? Jesus said, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me." (John 14: 6").
John tells us the significance of who Jesus is in John 1:1. In the beginning was the Word, the Word was with God, and the Word was God. Verse 14 says,
"And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth."
Jesus calls Himself God (John 8:58). His apostle Thomas calls him God (John 20:28-29). Jesus received worship (Matt. 2:11, 14:33, 28:9,17, John 9:38). Jesus said, he's the only way to the Father (John 14:6). He also warned his apostles not to believe in false Christs and false apostles (Matt. 24:23-24). It is apparent that Jesus thought that it was very important to correctly identify who He was and what He has done. Jesus asked "Whom do you say that I Am?"
Is the Holy Ghost God?
In Acts, chapter 5, Peter asks Ananias why he lied to the Holy Ghost. Then he told Ananias that he and his wife had not lied to man but to God. Here an apostle powerfully calls the Holy Ghost, God.
What is the Trinity?
These three separate Persons all have the attributes of God and are called God in the Bible, yet the God of the Bible says that there is only one God. There are not three separate gods but the three persons are somehow the one true God of the Bible. This relationship is called the Trinity. This is not easy to understand, yet it is taught in the Bible. The more we read in the Bible about who the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost are, the more we come to know the real God of the Bible.
Isaiah 43:10 says that there is only one true God. Yet, at Jesus' conception, the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost were involved (Luke 1:34-37). At his baptism (Matt. 3:13-17), there are three distinct personages involved: the voice of the Father, Jesus being baptized, and the Holy Ghost coming down from God like a dove. Also, Jesus was resurrected by the Father (Heb. 11:19), the Son (John 2:18-22), and the Holy Ghost (Romans 8:11).
Even though these three seem to be separate, they all claim to be the same God. We get the word "Trinity" from this biblical concept. Trinity comes from tri-unity which means three in one. The Triune God of the Bible separates true believers from false believers and non-Christians.
How Can We Be Saved?
The biblical method of salvation is clearly described in Ephesians 2:8-10:
"For it is by grace that we are saved through faith and not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not by works lest anyone should boast. For we are created in Christ Jesus to do good works which he has foreordained that we should walk in."
God's salvation is free. There is no way anyone can earn or become worthy of it. God's true salvation separates the saved from the unsaved. John 3:16 says,
"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life."
Thus, the real Jesus of the Bible is the way to salvation, and we must accept Him by faith.
God's true believers should be able to answer these two questions correctly. However, these two Biblical truths are a stumbling block for false religions. False religions always redefine who God is and/or how we are saved. False religions usually attack a portion of the Trinity and more especially the person, work and word of Jesus Christ. When examining the truthfulness of a religious group, the first step is to determine exactly who they say Jesus is and whether or not one must earn or become worthy of salvation.
If their answers to either of these two items are wrong, then it really doesn't matter how many other things are correct; having the wrong answers to these two questions will still cause them to fail God's entrance exam into Heaven. Jesus said,
"everyone who confesses Me before men, the Son of Man shall confess him also before the angels of God; but he who denies Me before men shall be denied before the angels of God" (Luke 12:8,9)