Really Important Things for a Christian To Know
I've been promising myself and others that I would make this list for several weeks now. It's time to get started.
The List of Really Important Things a Christian Should Know
- You can do anything.
- Following Christ is all about faith. There is a zeal that is the product of really believing that "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" (Php. 4:13)
- Your zeal to follow Jesus will make up for almost any mistakes in what follows
- Tremendous faith in and love for Jesus will resolve almost any lack of knowledge or misunderstandings you have about the Christian faith. Love him, love his commands, and spend much time in fellowship with him. That is more important than anything else, and it will make up for mistakes in every other area.
- Christianity is a spiritual religion
- It is those who walk by the Spirit who are the sons of God (Rom. 8:14). Like it or not, Christianity is a highly subjective religion, and we are going to have to give room to one another to be moved by the Spirit of God.
- Christianity is a CORPORATE, spiritual religion
- God does promise to lead us into all things by the Spirit, but 1 Jn. 2:27 has all plural yous, no singular ones. It is together that we are led into truth, and while we have to give each other freedom to follow God's Spirit, we must all be aware that we are easily deceived and need our brother's exhortations (Heb. 3:13). Eph. 4:11-16 is another great passage, and 1 Jn. 2:27 and Eph. 4:11-16 explain why the church is called the pillar and support of the truth by Paul in 1 Tim. 3:15.
- Do whatever God says, whether you agree with it or not!
- The example here is the story of Naaman the Syrian (2 Kings 5:1-14), who was told by Elisha to dip himself in the Jordan seven times to be cured of leprosy. He was really mad that he was told something so bizarre. Nonetheless, when a servant talked him into doing it, he was cleansed. We, too, need to listen to God like Naaman did, for if it is really the Word of God, it will produce the results that Naaman got.
- The modern churches often worship the Bible, and we must not follow them in that.
- Modern American Christians almost universally trust their intellect over the leading of the Spirit. They claim to be following the Bible, but they're not. They're following tradition and their interpretations of the Bible, which are almost never based on any real, honest, skilled analysis of what the Bible teaches. Thus, American churches are almost universally powerless and embarrassing (even if some individual Christians are not) because they refuse to be taught by God to deliver them from their chains of tradition and complacency.
- Christians can't be afraid of the truth
- It's not very nice to say that American churches are almost universally powerless and embarrassing, but it's the truth. If we want to see Jesus glorified, then it's more important to do his will and concern ourselves with his feelings than to worry about hurting each other's feelings.
- The local church is incredibly important. If we don't know that, the devil certainly does.
- For most Americans the local church is only important insofar as it helps us be better Christians. Nonsense. You are not Jesus' bride or body; the church is. Thus, what benefits the church is far, far more important than what might benefit you. The light that Jesus wants to shine to the world is not "this little light of mine," but the great light of the church (Matt. 5:13-16, where all the yous are plural; cf. also Isaiah 60:1ff). Even in America, if Christians come together in wholehearted submission to Christ, agreeing that they need one another (1 Cor. 12), and giving themselves to each other for life as the family of God, they will experience a miraculous level of persecution, and they will understand why Paul says that all who desire to live godly in Christ suffer persecution (2 Tim. 3:12). The key is "in Christ," which is in his church, which is his body.
- Our unity is based on obedience, not theological arguments.
- 2 Tim. 2:19 is a terribly important verse in our day. The foundation of God is that he himself knows who belongs to him. We don't need to concern ourselves with that. But Paul adds that the other part of the foundation is that those who name the name of Christ must depart from iniquity. Those who say we need not depart from iniquity to be in fellowship with Christ are false preachers of the Gospel who must be anathematized. But also, those who divide over tongues, eternal security (as long as everyone acknowledges that those who go to heaven are those obedient to Christ by his Spirit), the baptism of the Holy Spirit, the role of water baptism, etc. are sinning. The church needs to be reunited, and the church consists of all those who name the name of Christ and depart from iniquity.
- You'll know this is true because it's possible to have the witness of the Spirit between those who depart from iniquity. Don't let stupid modern doctrines that we fool ourselves into thinking we understand prevent that marvelous unity that is created only by the Spirit of God.
- Doctrine is important in Scripture, but doctrine in Scripture concerns behavior only and VERY few important theological beliefs.
- Even after 300 years, the only theological doctrines that all the leaders of the churches could come up with could be summed up in one paragraph, the Nicene Creed. When Paul discussed "sound" doctrine, his list is drastically different than any we would come up with!!! Read that list in Tit. 2:1-10.
- Real Christianity is not theoretical; it's eminently practical.
- Faith vs. works is a worthless discussion. Jesus wants us to do works by faith, and we're only distracted by the arguments. Paul discussed faith to get people away from depending on the Law. James slammed faith only (Jam. 2:14-26) to stop people from trusting in faith apart from works. Jesus just wants you to keep his commands (Jn. 15:10). Yes, you can only do that by abiding in him (Jn. 15:5), but don't worry, if you try to obey him without his power, you'll figure out you need him on your own. Talking about faith and works is conterproductive. You must do works to go to heaven (Matt. 7:21-23; 25:31-46; Paul agrees throughout his writings, but you shouldn't need anyone else's word but Jesus'), and you have to come to Jesus for the power to do those works. Talking about it is a waste of time. Just get busy obeying him because you're not going to heaven if you don't (Matt. 7:21-23; Eph. 5:3-8; 1 Jn. 2:3-4).
- Salvation by faith alone, as taught by many churchs, is an abominable doctrine that makes disciples of hell.
- You're going to hell if you're not at least diligently trying to follow Jesus (2 Pet. 1:5-11 and many other places). Jesus wants his disciples to zealously and diligently obey him. He promises rewards, threatens punishments, offers encouragements, forgives, tenderly consoles, harshly rebukes, and does anything else he needs to do to get us to do what is best for us—obey him. Forget all that stuff that limits people to one way. Do whatever you have to, but obey him. George MacDonald was correct when he said that the one great heresy of the church was understanding faith to be something other than obedience.
- Nonetheless, it is true that God will "abundantly pardon" (Is. 55:7) and that "his mercies are new every morning" (Lam. 3:22)
- We love him because he first loved us (1 Jn. 4:19). God is incredibly merciful, and he saves Samsons and Davids as well as wonderfully obedient people like John. You will find him tender, compassionate, and understanding of your weaknesses if you're fighting to overcome them. He is far more merciful to you than even you are.
- Look at what God is doing in your life
- Those whose hearts are not right, but who fool themselves that they are will often find themselves surprised by his condemnation. If you are one who mocks God by your lack of care, you should look around and see if maybe God is blessing nothing you do. If he's with you, he's having mercy on you. If he's against you, look up for that angel with the flaming sword trying to stop you from proceeding (re: story of Balaam). I'm not talking about tribulations or discipline. Those happen to good, obedient people who are walking in the Spirit. I'm talking about a pattern of not being able to accomplish what's on your heart. You should be able to see rich fellowship with and worship for God even in your most despairing moments.
- The Fullness of the Law
- Jesus didn't abolish the Law. He brought it to fullness (Matt. 5:17ff). But keeping the Law—or rather, trying to keep the Law, will accomplish nothing. We have no idea what God wants from us through the Law. That knowledge comes only from following the Spirit into righteousness. In this way, we find out, for example, that God doesn't care about food (1 Cor. 6:13) and food can't defile you (Mark 7:15). But he does care that our fellowship (eating) is with those who meditate on the Word of God (ruminating) and who separate from the world (parting the hoof).
- This particular point is important as much because it helps us not be confused by positive New Testament statements about the Law as because it helps us in our walk with Christ. For example, Paul appeals to the Law as proof for something he said (1 Cor. 9:3-10), but he does so in the way I'm mentioning here, somewhat figuratively.
- There's two points to be made here. First, we Christians walk in the spiritual fullness of the Law, while the Jews, having been a fleshly kingdom, walked in only its fleshly shadow. Jesus brought the Law to its fullness because we are spiritual enough to walk in that fullness (see the Greek of Matt. 5:17 and Jesus' own explanation which follows). Second, we walk in righteousness given to us by Christ by following the Spirit of God, not by trying to obtain righteousness through the Law.
- Authority must be wielded in complete submission to God.
- A friend was telling me recently that the reason God punished Moses for striking the rock rather than speaking to it (Num. 20:8-13) was because the rod represents authority, and authority is not to be wielded as our own, but as God's. We must be completely obedient to God, not doing what we think is best. Moses lost his opportunity to enter the promised land over it, an extreme punishment!
You can leave your own "really important thing" in the comment form below.