Archive for the ‘The Christian Post’ Category

Penn Jillette, of the Penn and Teller comedy magic duo, named the  Bible as one of his six favorite books in a column for “The Week.” Anyone who reads all of it will  become an atheist, Jillette asserts.

Besides entertaining audiences with his friend Teller (born Raymond Joseph  Teller), Jillette is well known for being outspoken about his atheist and  libertarian views.

“If you’re considering becoming an atheist, read the Bible from cover to  cover,” Jillette wrote. “No study guides, no spins, just read it. Sometime  between when God tells Abraham to kill his son and when Jesus tells everyone to  put him before their families, you’ll be an atheist.”

Jillette’s other five favorite books were also tied in different ways to his  atheism.

Herman Melville‘s Moby Dick is Jillette’s favorite book, which  he views as an allegory about a foolish search for God because “the white whale  is God, and Ahab is wasting his life chasing God.”

A book about World War II “proves there’s no God” and a book about the “green  revolution” describes people “doing God’s work, because God isn’t going to.”

Jillette has also written books about atheism, including God, No!: Signs  You May Already Be an Atheist and Other Magical Tales and Every  Day is an Atheist Holiday!: More Magical Tales from the Author of God, No!,  which was released this month.

Jillette and Teller are both libertarian in their political views and fellows  with Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank.

Though Jillette views about God differ from Christians, he has spoken admiringly and respectfully of Christians. He has  also said that his interactions with Christians have been mostly positive.

In a  YouTube video that went viral three years ago, Jillette criticized  atheists who argue that Christians should not share their faith with others.

“I don’t respect people who don’t proselytize,” Jillette said, “I don’t  respect that at all.

“If you believe that there is a Heaven and a Hell, and people could be going  to Hell … and you think it’s not really worth telling them this because it  would make it socially awkward, … how much do you have to hate somebody to not  proselytize?

“How much do you have to hate somebody to believe that everlasting life is  possible and not tell them that? I mean, if I believed beyond a shadow of a  doubt that a truck was coming at you and you didn’t believe it, … there’s a  certain point where I tackle you, and [everlasting life] is more important than that.”


You’ve no doubt heard of “Black Friday,” the day after  Thanksgiving that features, along with countless sales, the more-than-occasional  trampling of shoppers by their frenzied peers.

In many ways, “Black Friday” has become a bigger deal than Thanksgiving. So  much so that many major retailers have announced that they are opening their  doors on Thursday.

The hope is that the possibility of buying something you don’t really need  for a little less than you would pay a few weeks later will help people work off  the turkey and pumpkin pie and get down to some serious Christmas shopping.

The problem is that it isn’t Christmas yet-at least not for Christians.

The weeks leading up to Christmas day are properly called Advent in Western  Christianity, from the Latin word adventus, meaning “coming.”[i]

Adventus was the Latin translation of the Greek word parousia, which the New  Testament most often used to refer to Jesus’ second coming. In antiquity,  parousia was usually associated with the arrival of royalty: the leaders of a  city went outside the city gates to meet the Emperor and escort him back into  the city.

Thus, for the Christian, Advent is about preparing to greet our King. And it  is a time for both looking back to Jesus’ first coming and looking forward to  His second coming in glory.

Like Lent, Advent is a penitential season, a time for reflection and  repentance. If we’re honest with ourselves, what Titus 2 calls “our blessed  hope-the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus  Christ,”-should provoke both joy and a bit of dread. It’s a time for asking  ourselves whether we truly are “a people that are [Christ’s] very own, eager to  do what is good.”

If this doesn’t put you in the mood for shopping, well, congratulations! You  are starting to “get” Advent.

The other emotion associated with Advent is yearning. Specifically, yearning  for God to fulfill His promises to His people and to set right what has gone  terribly wrong.

This yearning permeates perhaps the greatest of all Advent hymns, “O Come, O  Come Emmanuel.” It’s a paraphrase of parts of the liturgy dating back to at  least the Middle Ages. Each verse invokes biblical titles for Christ-Emmanuel,  Root of Jesse, Day Spring, etc.-and then rehearses why His people yearn for His  presence among them.

Another Advent hymn, “Creator of the Stars of Night,” which dates from the  seventh century, captures the season’s emphasis on both Christ’s first and  second comings. After expressing the yearning at the heart of the season, it  proclaims “Thou, grieving that the ancient curse, should doom to death a  universe, hast found the medicine, full of grace, to save and heal a ruined  race.”

It then goes on to say, “At whose dread Name, majestic now, all knees must  bend, all hearts must bow; and things celestial Thee shall own, and things  terrestrial Lord alone.”

There’s a lot going on in these hymns, which is why my colleague John  Stonestreet has produced a marvelous DVD and CD teaching series on the hymns of  Advent. It’s called “He Has Come,” and contains John’s “Two-Minute Warning”  videos, study guide by T. M. Moore, “BreakPoint” commentaries by Chuck Colson on  Advent, and a bonus CD with some of the great Advent hymns. We have it for you  at I hope you get a copy for you and your family.

This year, Advent begins on Sunday, December 2nd. Embrace the season! But  whatever you do, do not let the culture define this most Christian of times for you.  That would be a truly black Friday.

In the Garden of Eden, Eve was seduced by a fantasy. “When the  woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye,  and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it.” (Genesis 3:6)  Her choice to pursue that fantasy rather than stick to God‘s will was a costly  error. Adam soon followed in his wife’s footsteps, and together, they learned  the difference between fantasy and reality.

God’s reality as revealed in His inerrant Word is the reality you should be  concerned about….rather than simply relying upon your current perception. It  is often said, “Perception is reality.” Well….perhaps to a certain extent that  is true….that is, until God’s reality bursts into your reality.

Many people today are living in a fantasy world of their own making. They  have seen some images online….or they have devised some grand scheme in their  mind….or they are living in the trance which an illicit relationship  produces….and they are charging ahead in pursuit of their fantasy. It drives  them. It energizes them. But if it is outside of God’s will for their life, it  is going no place good.

Fantasies are often fueled by the sinful desires which dwell within us as  human beings. These desires are longing to be satisfied. The more that these  desires take up residence in our heart, the harder it will be to say “No” to the  fantasy and “Yes” to God’s will.

Fantasy allows a person to escape to a make-believe reality. Your heart gets  transported to a world which seems like it would be so satisfying. When this  life isn’t going quite the way we envisioned it going, we are tempted to escape  to our fantasy world and indulge in thoughts about our dream. We assume that if  only we could achieve our fantasy, we would experience fulfillment.

But not every dream is pleasing to the Lord. Not every dream is about  something wholesome and noble. Sometimes our dreams and fantasies involve things  that God says are forbidden. At that point, we must decide whether or not to  continue in our dream world….or begin to fill our mind and heart once again with  God’s Word and God’s will for our life.

Your mind and your heart will be energized by something and by  someone….either by the Lord and things that please Him….or by your fantasy and  things that are outside of His will for your life. Adam and Eve were content  with what God had given them….until they allowed their hearts to consider the  forbidden fruit. Once tempted with the idea, they began to assume they could get  close to the fire of their fantasy without getting burned….but boy were they  ever wrong.

You and I are wrong too whenever we make that dangerous mistake in our mind.  When we think that we can find satisfaction outside of God’s will, we are only  kidding ourselves….and we are living in a dream world of our own making. We set  up this “thing” in our mind as being the ultimate experience….and we think we  must have it….even though deep down we know that our pursuit of it is only a  waste of time, energy, and resources.

Fantasies can easily become addictive once we give into them. There are many  kinds of addiction…and most of them will only lead us away from a close  relationship with the Lord. Those things will only consume us with our perceived  need to fulfill our fantasy and reach that “high.” Any momentary “high” will  soon be met with plenty of “lows” which are the byproduct of chasing a fantasy  that is outside of God’s will.

Sinful desires inside man prompts him to invest hundreds of hours chasing a  dream that will at best only give him a few minutes of pleasure. Man soon  becomes as addicted to the “chase” as to the few minutes of fleshly fulfillment.  It quickly becomes an obsession….and one that can never bring man to a place  of rest and inner joy.

The flesh drives us….while the Holy Spirit gently leads us. One approach  involves man hustling after sin….while the other involves a peaceful walk with  Christ who dwells in the heart of the believer through faith. Driven by the  flesh….or gently led by the Spirit. Your life cannot travel down both roads.  Those two paths are diametrically opposed to one another.

Are you chasing a fantasy which you know is not God’s will for your life?  What is it going to take for you to stop pursuing that thing which has heartache  written all over it? Now is the time to say “goodbye” to your fantasy…and  “hello” to God’s will for life. Why live in deception any longer? When has that  chase ever led you to a place of real peace and contentment?

God’s will gets lived out in the moment…in the reality of the “now.” Fantasy  exists in the realm of the “later.” We think that something is being offered to  us which actually does not exist….it only exists in our mind….and in our  dreams….but not in the real world…and certainly not in God’s reality. Eve’s  fantasy in her mind was never fulfilled…but only imagined and dreamed about  for a short time. That is the nature of a fantasy.

So then why do we continue to chase it? Simply put, we find ourselves  compelled to chase it once we have made the choice to give into the initial  temptation. It started out as a possibility…but now it is a pursuit. It went  from temptation to compulsion. It went from free will to a state of being  driven. Our free will at that point has become ensnared by the deceitfulness of  sin, and we now have subjected our “will” to that insatiable drive to make this  fantasy a reality in our life.

It didn’t work for Adam and Eve….and it won’t work any better for us. Any  pursuit outside of God’s will is doomed to fail….it is dead on arrival….but we  just don’t know it when we are living in a state of compulsion and in the mental  region of “fantasy land.” It’s like our feet lift off the ground and we seem  unable to bring them back down to earth….to that place of God’s reality.

Peace is found in God and in His will….not in our sinful fantasies. You and I  are not really any different than Adam and Eve in that sense. We have been  placed in a garden…and offered spiritual riches in this life, and eternal riches  in heaven that come only through faith in Christ. But there is another tree…and  a serpent with some enticing words for us. Fantasies are often born out of  listening to the wrong messengers or viewing the wrong images.

The solution? “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our  faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and  sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2) The mission  Jesus came to fulfill was not a fantasy….but rather, the greatest reality in  the history of the universe. There is nothing more real than the cross where  Jesus gave His life for your sins and mine.

Jesus came to earth and died on the cross as part of God’s reality. He came  to a bunch of people who were not pursuing Him, but instead, chasing their own  dreams and wishes. He came here to restore order in the soul of man…for anyone  who would surrender their fantasy life to the real world of His cross and  resurrection. Many today have a fantasy of Jesus which involves Him not being  the Savior of the world. Their fantasy will eventually come crashing down…either  by spiritual conversion to Christianity…or by their own physical death…or by the  Lord returning to earth before they die.

If you are ready to leave the virtual world of fantasy land, then I have some  good news for you. Soul satisfaction is right around the corner…you may not have  experienced it yet because you have been too busy with your fantasy, but that is  all about to change if you are ready to be serious about God’s reality.

So go ahead…step into His world…and His reality…and His grace…and just see  what God can do when you stop trying to meet the needs of your soul and heart  and mind with things that can never bring true satisfaction. Once you leave  those things in your past and start to get addicted to Jesus and His Word, you  will know the difference between “living by the Spirit” and “walking in the  flesh.” It’s the difference between night and day.

And besides, what have your fantasies ever been able to deliver to you  anyway? They have only provided big promises and sensational dreams…but little  results. If you stop and think about it, you will probably admit that the  “reality” of your fantasies has been very much like a mist that appears for  awhile and then vanishes. The more you chase it…the more elusive it becomes.  It’s really just a ghost…an apparition of your own wild imagination.

Such is the life of one who chooses fantasy over God’s will. It’s a chasing  after the wind…and we all know how hard it is to catch the wind.

I guess God really did know what He was talking about when He set those  boundaries in place for Adam and Eve. It’s almost like He designed men and women  to only be satisfied when we do things according to His will. Hmm. And here I  thought the whole universe revolved around me…or was that just another one of my  fantasies?

This will definitely be interesting to watch, just to see if Obama will omit “so help me God” from the oath. (trinityspeaks)

President Barack Obama will be taking the oath of office  for the second time on Jan. 21, 2013. And atheists want him to do so without  mentioning “God” and without a Bible.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation sent Obama a letter following his  re-election, asking him to reject the way “this country politicizes  religion.”

“When you stand to reaffirm your oath, do so using the language of the  Founders. Eliminate the religious verbiage. While you’re at it, why not place  your hand on the Constitution instead of a bible?” FFRF attorney Andrew L.  Seidel wrote in the letter.

The words “so help me God” are not included in the oath as prescribed by the  Constitution, the organization  argues. The Constitution also does not require the president to place his hand  on a Bible when taking oath, FFRF adds.

When Obama took office in 2009, he repeated after Justice John Roberts: “I,  Barack Hussein Obama do solemnly swear that I will execute the Office of  President of the United States faithfully and will to the best of my ability  preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, so help me  God.”

FFRF argues that “so help me God” violates the Constitution as it alienates  the nonreligious, which the organization believes is the future of America.

Since this is Obama’s second term, FFRF says he is not “beholden to any  future constituency.”

“This term is a chance to do something that no president in recent memory has  done: reach out to secular Americans. In the past, that might have been  politically costly. But this recent election shows  that it will be politically costly not to reach out to secular America,” FFRF  wrote. “We are the future. Use this second term to build a legacy by rejecting  the way this country politicizes religion.”

Atheist Michael Newdow tried to take the issue (“so help me God”) to court  but was refused a hearing by the U.S. Supreme Court last year.

The FFRF doesn’t plan to file any lawsuit but is imploring the president to  honor the “secular intent of the oath.”

Atheist Hemant Mehta doesn’t believe it’s a big deal or that any real harm  would be done if Obama does recite “so help me God.”

But, he argues, “every time we let something like this slip, the Religious  Right adds it to their giant list of Ways to Trick People Into Thinking We’re a  Christian Nation. Let’s not let the occasion pass without at least posing a  challenge.”

This Sunday, my church has the privilege of hosting our community’s Veteran’s day service. For me, it is a great honor to be able to speak both for our community and as a representative of Jesus to these great men and women who have served our country so faithfully.

My Veteran’s Day Message – Greater Love Has No Man

The text for my message comes from Jesus Himself. It is found in John’s gospel chapter 15.

John 15:13 New King James Version (NKJV) 13 Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.

This quote from Jesus has been used many times when speaking of our military and our veterans. To give your life in service of another is the greatest sign of love that any person can give. When a veteran signs up for military service they know that they may be called upon at any time to go defend and protect their friends and neighbors from any threats to this country.

When Jesus made this statement, He was talking about upcoming sacrifice on the cross. He was willingly laying His life down for the greater good of His friends and the greater good of all mankind.

When I think about all that our veterans have done for us over the years, I am extremely humbled. Their willingness to serve in the midst of extreme danger is not something to be taken lightly. They deserve our utmost respect. They also willingly laid down their lives for the greater good of us. In this they have followed the example of Jesus.

A Message To Our Veterans

Once again our nation is threatened. The threat does not come from outside forces but from forces from within. Our culture, way of life, and values are all at risk. The fourth President of the United States, James Madison said this.

“We have staked the whole future of American civilization, not upon the power of government, far from it. We’ve staked the future of all our political institutions upon our capacity…to sustain ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God.” – Fourth President of the United States & founding Father – James Madison

and Harry S. Truman is quoted to have said,

“The fundamental basis of this nation’s law was given to Moses on the Mount. The fundamental basis of our Bill of Rights comes from the teaching we get from Exodus and St. Matthew, from Isaiah and St. Paul. I don’t think we emphasize that enough these days. If we don’t have the proper fundamental moral background, we will finally end up with a totalitarian government which does not believe in the right for anybody except the state.” – Harry S. Truman

Our nation was founded upon certain principles that are found in the Bible. Just like the principle of laying down your life for your friends is found in the Bible, our personal liberties and freedoms, our constitutional rights come from principles in the Bible.

Today, the Bible, Christianity, and the whole foundation of our nations existence are under attack by those that would replace those foundations with a relative morality and foundation that changes with the whims of those enforcing them.

A Spiritual Call To Arms

My fellow Americans, we have another battle to fight, another enemy to vanquish. However today it is not a call to take up guns, but it is a call to take up words, ideas, and actions. It is time for all of us, veterans or not, to speak up, stand up, and fight for the very soul of this nation. However it will not be done with acts of violence, but instead acts of love, acts of sacrifice, and acts of giving.

Just as Jesus gave His life for the lives of all of us, we need to take up His example and lay down our lives for our friends, family, community and nation. We need to gently speak the truth in love. Fight the revisionist history and those that would remove faith from the public discourse. We need to take up one more cause. We need to once again bring Jesus back into our culture.


Pastor Duke

This article was first published on my website Taber’s Truths

I know that I’m supposed to say that God is in control and that  we should simply pray for our president and put our faith and trust in the  sovereignty of God, but I’m not going to.

This seems like I’m backtracking on statements made in my previous column  “America Needs a Different Type of Leader,” where I said that regardless of who  wins this election, we must remember that Jesus is the King on His throne both  in Heaven and in our hearts. I’m not backtracking. I believe that with all of my  being.

But for those who seek to live according to the Word of God by the power of  the Holy Spirit, these astonishing election results should cause us to fall to  our knees and grieve for our nation. Colorado has legalized recreational use of  marijuana, while Massachusetts, Maryland, and Oregon have approved it for  medical usage. Maine, Maryland, and Washington have legalized homosexual marriage. And Massachusetts has  also joined Oregon and Washington in allowing euthanasia. It has become clear  that in every instance where Biblical values were up for a vote, the American  people have chosen to reject them. This election goes so much deeper than just  who was elected president for the next four years. This election was a barometer  of the soul of America, and America is in critical condition.

Still, I will not curse the darkness. There’s no value in that. While I’m  disappointed in these results, I wish I could say that I’m surprised. I’m not.  I’ve believed for some time now that we will continue to see less and less of  the grey area, and more of a clear distinction between black and white. Sin will  become more and more acceptable and celebrated. Those vices and immoral  practices that we have so long treated as taboo will no longer be seen as such.  We will continue to become a nation that more closely resembles Sodom and  Gomorrah, rather than the “City on a Hill” that was dreamed about by men like  John Winthrop and William Bradford.

But along with greater darkness, comes the opportunity for greater light. And  that light is found in the people of God, beginning to once again act like the  people of God.

Throughout history, God has always chosen to work through weak, frail,  inadequate human beings who are willing to give Him whatever they have, and  allow Him to use that for His glory and purposes. But for too long now, the  Church in America has sat back and made excuses for our laziness and apathy by  saying, “God’s in control.” And while I fully believe that God IS  in control, I realize that He has chosen to limit  Himself to a great extent by what He can do through His people. We can no longer  afford to bury our heads in the sand, hoping for things to get better. It’s time  for God’s people to rise up.

We must do so much more than hold a few prayer services and preach a few  sermons over the next several weeks. Eventually, the stinging pain of Tuesday  night will begin to lessen, and we will again go about our lives as we have  before. But if we allow ourselves to forget the emotions and fears we have felt  because of this election, we will miss the greatest opportunity that God has  given the Church in this nation in over a century. As the darkness grows, the  light can shine brighter, and a mighty move of God can return America back to  the nation we once were, when we could confidently know that “In God We Trust”  was more than four words on our currency; it was a truth written upon our  hearts.

We need revival. And revival never comes to an apathetic people. In fact,  revival most often comes to a people suffering from persecution. It is during  persecution that God’s people take their eyes off of their own frivolous desires  and petty differences, and return to simple faith in God based upon hearing and  obeying His Word. And let me assure you, persecution  is coming. The virtual prison of political correctness, tolerance, and  celebrating diversity, will soon move into a radical agenda that attempts to  silence the voices of those who speak out against sin and the evil that dwells  in the hearts of men. Those who refuse to be silenced will be branded as  religious extremists and relegated to the fringes of society. Two of our most  sacred rights as AmericansFreedom of Religion, and Freedom of Speech – will  be chipped away at until we will no longer recognize the country that we were  born in.

But in that persecution is the hope that awaits America. As the persecution  grows, the Church will be forced to return to God’s principles of love,  obedience, justice, holiness, compassion, truth, and faithfulness. The Church in  America will once again become the salt and light that Jesus told us we are  supposed to be. And when all is said and done, I believe that revival will come  to America. And that revival can spread to the world.

There is truth in the cliché, “It’s always darkest before the dawn.” So,  again, I will not curse the darkness. I will thank God for the mercy and grace  He has shown us in allowing us to see this darkness and shine His Light to the  world. As the Apostle John wrote, “The light shines in the darkness, and the  darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:5 ESV)

Are you a Counterfeit Christian (Part 1)?

In recent months my wife and I have watched a number of professing Christians we know leave their Christian walk, engage in a completely worldly lifestyle, and even go so far as to state they aren’t interested in the Church anymore and/or doubt the existence of God. These aren’t simply moderately active believers, either, but rather people who were seemingly very engaged in their faith, families, and various Christian activities at one time. Such drastic contrast between who they were before and what they’ve become now has brought us great sadness and caused us to wonder if they were truly saved to begin with.

Is it really possible for someone to appear as a true Christian for some time, but really not be born again? Making the question more personal: How can you tell if you’re a counterfeit Christian vs. the real thing?

Commanded to Be Sure

Some argue there’s really no way for someone to have full assurance that they’re truly saved. However, if that’s true, why does Scripture command believers to make such an examination and ensure they’re in the faith?

Paul says, “Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you—unless indeed you fail the test?” (2 Cor. 13:5). Following Paul, Peter says: “Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you” (2 Pet. 1:10).

It would seem strange for a believer to not have any means of ensuring their salvation, but be commanded to perform just such a test. This being the case, Scripture should contain the criteria that believers can use to validate that their faith is real.

Our task, then, is to determine what Biblical framework should be used to make such a determination. The great theologian and preacher Jonathan Edwards begins his famous work on this topic by asking for the exact same thing: “There is no question whatsoever, that is of greater importance to mankind, and what is more concerns every individual person to be well resolved in, than this: What are the distinguishing qualifications of those that are in favor with God, and entitled to his eternal rewards?”[1]

Say ‘The Prayer’ and You’re Done?

As I delivered a four-part series of messages I created on this subject at a particular church, one person said the only thing needed to ensure a person was saved was that they had complied with Romans 10:9 and confessed with their mouth that Jesus was Lord. If they had done that, no other test should be used. When I questioned the individual about the need for a changed life and other certain evidences that the Bible speaks of, the man strongly argued against such things and said I was espousing a works-based salvation.

While I appreciate his desire to guard against salvation by works, I believe he was confusing two different things: (1) The basis of a person’s salvation; (2) the evidences that accompany that same salvation.

The Bible makes it clear we are saved by faith alone and not by works (cf. Eph. 2:8-9 and many other verses). But, Scripture also speaks about people who call Jesus Lord, appear to have the right credentials, but are told by Jesus, “I never knew you” and banished from His presence forever (cf. Matt. 7:21-23). In his epistle, James also mentions those who have a dead faith that is unable to save (cf. James 2:14).

Did these people that Jesus and James speak of just not articulate the right prayer? Clearly, there seems to be more to the story.

A Recurring Theme

Throughout the New Testament, there is a recurring pattern that Jesus and the apostles lay down for differentiating a true believer from a counterfeit: examine the quality and consistency of fruit that a life displays. To see what I mean, watch the back-and-forth contrasts made in these three example passages that speak to the evidences of who are true believers and who will not experience eternal life with God:

“Therefore bear fruits in keeping with repentance . . . Indeed the axe is already laid at the root of the trees; so every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire” (Luke 3:8–9).

“You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will know them by their fruits” (Matt. 7:16–20).

“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. “Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. . . . As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. . . .If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned” (John 15:1–6).

You’ll find the same things stated many more times in the gospels. Jesus talks of four soils, only one of which produces fruit (Matt. 13:23); Jesus tells the religious leaders that the kingdom would be taken from them and given to a people producing fruit (Matt. 21:43); Christ relays the parable of a fig tree that would be cut down if it didn’t produce fruit (Luke 13:6-9); Jesus tells His disciples that He specifically chose them to bear fruit (John 15:16).

The rest of the New Testament contains similar statements. For example, Paul says we were saved in order to bear fruit for God (Rom. 7:4), the writer of Hebrews tells us that good ground that brings forth a useful harvest “receives a blessing from God; but if it yields thorns and thistles, it is worthless and close to being cursed, and it ends up being burned” (Hebrews 6:7–8), and Jude speaks about fake believers who are “autumn trees without fruit, doubly dead, uprooted” (Jude 12).

Time and again, the Bible describes the primary difference between genuine and counterfeit believers being the ‘fruit’ seen in the life of the person. But what exactly is that ‘fruit’ and what does it look like? We’ll tackle that question and a few others in Part Two of this article.


Are you a Counterfeit Christian (Part 2)?

In Part One of this article, I provided an introductory look at the question of how a person can Biblically ascertain whether they are a genuine believer or a counterfeit Christian. As we saw, the Bible speaks with one voice regarding what the primary differentiator is between the two: a life that consistently bears ‘fruit’ for God distinguishes a Christian from a non-Christian.

But what exactly is that fruit, what causes it, and are there other characteristics of which the Bible speaks that sets apart believers from non-believers? Let’s look at these questions now to get a better understanding of how a person can reach the place of assurance that they truly belong to Christ.

How the Bible Describes the Non-Christian

The Bible says that every human being is born a sinner and a rebel where seeking God is concerned (cf. Ps. 51:5, Rom. 3:11-18). That being true, each of us is born with a nature (called “the flesh” by the Bible in various places) that has ungodly affections and a mind darkened to the standards of God.

The fleshly affections are chronicled by Paul in Galatians 5:19-21, and result in both things that the unbeliever both loves and hates. The unbeliever loves the things of the world and rejects the things of God.

The unbeliever’s mind is summed up by Paul in the following way: “For the mind set on the flesh is death . . . The mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so” (Rom. 8:6-7). This equates to the rejection of spiritual truth and a mind that is self and world-centered rather than God-centered.

The ‘fruit’ that is born from such a life is reflected in what a person does and who they truly are down deep. Left unchecked, there is continuous growth process and movement away from God and toward the self and sinful behavior.

All of this can be represented in the following way:

How the Bible Describes the Christian

When God saves a person, they are spiritually born again and given a new spiritual nature that disrupts the sinful maturation process described above:

Note that the new believer is not someone who never sins (cf. Rom. 7), but they are now freed from sin and able to accept, embrace, and love the things of God.

The new Christian is given the gift of the Holy Spirit (2 Cor. 1:22) who “testifies with our spirit that we are children of God” (Rom. 8:16), which is the first indicator, and indeed a continuously occurring piece of internal evidence that a person is truly saved. Paul tells the Thessalonians that one way he knew they were saved was because “our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction” (1 Thess. 1:5).

The believer’s new affections include a love for God and His Word/laws and a hatred for the things that oppose God (cf. Ps. 119:97-113). The mind of the new Christian is now one that understands spiritual truth and is focused on the things of God, as Paul says: “For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit” (Rom. 8:5).

The fruit that springs from the new life is radically different from the old nature and may best be summed up by John who says, “By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother” (1 John 3:10).

These truths may be pictorially represented as follows:

The Chief Difference

In his magisterial work, A Treatise Concerning Religious Affections, Jonathan Edwards sums up the primary difference between those who have been truly saved and those who are not this way: “True religion, in great part, consists in holy affections.”[1]

In other words, the object(s) of a person’s desires and affections vividly display either the presence or absence of God’s Spirit in someone. Edwards says, “As from true divine love flow all Christian affections, so from a counterfeit love in like manner naturally flow other false affections. In both cases, love is the fountain, and the other affections are the streams.”[2]

Edwards argues that the principal evidence of life is ‘motion’ (a living person breathes, moves, etc.), and in like fashion, the primary evidence of a holy life is ‘holy motion’.[3] Put another way, it is not about perfection, but a person’s continuous direction that matters.

In Part Three of this article, I’ll tackle some final questions on the topic of how you can ensure you possess true saving faith and discuss some practical methods everyone can utilize to confirm that one is not merely deluding him/herself into believing they are a Christian when in fact they are not.

[1] Jonathan Edwards, A Treatise Concerning Religious Affections, Kindle Edition, pg. 145.

[2] Ibid, 59.