If the end is really near, wouldn’t it be a good idea to know for sure whether you are going to hell or going to Heaven, whether you are going to be caught up in the rapture, or whether you are going to be left behind to see horrendous suffering and pain during the tribulation?
It’s far better to examine yourself now, rather than after the rapture, because then you are likely to say something like,
God, how could I be so stupid? The signs were everywhere, and people told me over and over again that we were running out of time. My own parents warned me, but I just blew them off and ignored everyone who warned me. God I feel like a fool, the biggest fool in the world. Now I’m facing the tribulation, lawlessness, death and destruction everywhere, the biggest earthquakes the earth has ever had, massive tsunamis, storms on a scale never seen before in history, roaming murderers and rapists, robbers and Satan worshippers everywhere. How could I be so stupid?
Before we proceed, here’s food for thought. Those who hate God never ask such questions. They like to say there is no God. For the satanists, they like to say that satan is god. If you haven’t heard, satan has spread a rumor among his followers that he is the true god, and that he will reward everyone who follows and worships him. His followers have been deceived, and they apparently believe it. Satan rewards his followers with success, money, fame, sex, and worldly happiness. They are truly deceived.
There is another huge segment of American society that consists of millions upon millions who believe they are Christians, but they too are deceived. Before we look at how the Bible reveals the difference, let’s pause to consider the millions who think they are saved but will someday wake up in hell.
Churches like Joel Osteen’s church is not a Christian church by any means, although it presents itself as one. The church is heavily into the prosperity doctrine to the extreme, and this is clearly a doctrine of demons. Osteen is misleading the people in his church and the millions who read his books and watch him on TV and online. He will face God on the day of judgment for this.
As I pointed out in the chapter about the Churches in the last days, the largest churches in America are mostly preaching doctrines of demons, and misleading millions. But these are the churches that America generally thinks are Christian churches. Let’s look outside the so-called Christian or evangelical churches.
Are there other large groups of “Christian” people who think they are saved but are not? Oh yes. We don’t have time to go into the proof texts here, but if you do not know already, the following are cults and their members are not genuine Christians according to the Bible:
Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, The Church of Scientology, Buddhists, Bahai’is, and Islamists
This is a touchy subject. I know this because I have broached the subject of true Christianity with a few people who claim to be Christians but are blatantly living for the world, and they get offended, angry, and begin to justify themselves. They immediately attack anyone who raises such issues, and they often say “who are you to judge?”
I am no one, and I do not judge, but what will you do with the Word of God? Forget about me. No one will face me on the day of judgment, but everyone will face God one day, and “every knee shall bow and every tongue confess” that Jesus Christ is Lord.
There must be some way of helping us know if we are genuinely saved, right? This is one of the questions in life for those who are professing Christians, “How can I know I am saved and will go to Heaven?” The scriptures give us many verses to know for sure, but with respect to the basics of recognizing the obvious differences in behavior that distinguishes genuine believers from the rest of the world, the Bible has much to say.
What does the Word of God say about believers and unbelievers? Is there a way to recognize the difference? Absolutely!
From 2 Timothy 3:1-5 in the last days before the rapture people will be:
- lovers of self
- lovers of money
- disobedient to their parents
- without self-control
- not loving good
- swollen with conceit
- lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God
- having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power
And Galatians 5:19-21 adds more items to the worldly checklist showing us what unbelievers look like. The acts of the flesh are obvious:
- sexual immorality
- impurity and debauchery
- idolatry and witchcraft
- fits of rage
- selfish ambition
- factions and envy
How do we know this is describing people who are not saved? The next verse tells us, “I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.” This clearly means they are not Christians, they are not saved by the blood of the Lamb, and they will spend eternity in the Lake of Fire. But there is more help in the Bible.
The Bible doesn’t leave us wondering what a genuine Christian looks like. From Galatians 5:22-26 we have this description. The genuine believer conducts his life absent the above extensive lists of behaviors, and then we see that the fruit of the Spirit is:
- gentleness and self-control
Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other. [Galatians 5:24-26]
Not only is the genuine believer described in this list, but the verse follows up by saying that the genuine believer has “crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”
I want to make sure we are clear about salvation before we continue. It is not something you can earn through good works. You can’t buy salvation and you can’t barter for it.
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. [Ephesians 2:8-10]
Even though we cannot earn salvation with good works, we were created by God to do good works. There’s a huge difference there. Salvation is by faith alone. Good works should follow if we are genuine believers.
What does it mean to crucify the flesh? That subject deserves a chapter of its own, so that is the next chapter, but incorporate what it means to crucify the flesh into this theme of what it means to be a genuine Christian.
Let’s summarize what a worldly person looks like and what a genuine Christian looks like.
The Worldly Christian
I know someone who is very successful from a worldly perspective. They have it all—a beautiful spouse, a gorgeous home with all the accoutrements, the cutest kids, the best cars and trucks, recreational toys, great recognition in the world for their accomplishments, wealth and money, and a very promising future.
They are charging forward with great enthusiasm and a cockiness that they try to hide. Behind the scenes, they are judgmental of others who do not make as much money as they do. They feel like their success is all because of them, their hard work and creativity and because they know the right attitudes. They’ve bought into the prosperity doctrine hook, line and sinker.
They want the image of being the perfect couple, and they desperately depend on what people think of them. Popularity is a big deal to them. They would never admit it in a thousand years, but it is so obvious to everyone else that money is their god. Meanwhile, so deceptive is the flesh and Satan’s wily ways, the claim of being a Christian is still there, and don’t you dare hint that they are not.
This person is not involved in a church, other than casual attendance, is not involved in a weekly home Bible study, does not pray constantly, does not know the Bible very well, because they don’t read it, and doesn’t fellowship with other believers. Conversations about God and his extraordinary work in us and how it relates to the world and the end times are all subjects that are conspicuously absent from this person’s life.
Such a person will claim to commune with God, but they have learned their meditation from secularists, not God. They practice prosperity doctrine positive mental attitudes that are actually doctrines of demons, not doctrines of Almighty God. They twist scripture to justify their behavior and lust for worldly success, but they deny Jesus Christ to their spiritual detriment. It is a tragic story.
The Genuine Believer
Now let’s look at what the Bible tells us is the behavior of a genuine believer. They are not walking in the sins that make up the long lists in 2 Timothy 3 and Galatians 5:19-21, and they are living and behaving consistent with Galatians 5:22-26.
This means the genuine believer is not one who likes to get drunk, who uses vulgar language all the time, or is course in other ways, who uses drugs to alter their mood rather than face personal challenges, who dabbles in satanic rituals, who loves to watch immoral movies, who thrives on violence, who is addicted or flirts with pornography, who is involved in illegal activities, who loves money, power, and fame, who is arrogant, selfish, and is not generous toward others.
I believe it was Josh McDowell who once asked, “If you were indicted for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?”
The person who lives like the person in 2nd Timothy 3 would not be convicted, because there is virtually no evidence in their life that they are a genuine Christian. They may say they are, and they may even think they are sincerely, and they may say the fact that they periodically go to church is evidence, but it is not persuasive proof. Many think they are Christians and many go to Church who will burn in hell and the Lake of Fire for eternity.
What a contrast! The genuine believer is full of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, and faithfulness. The genuine believer lives and walks his faith. He is none of the ugly things listed in 2nd Timothy 3, and he does live out his faith which results in the fruit of the spirit of Galatians 5.
This is the difference spelled out clearly in the Bible. This is not my opinion of what a genuine believer looks like and does not look like. This is God’s Word spelling out the difference, and it really is not hard to look at someone’s life and see which camp they fall into.
Does a Christian have to be perfect? Of course not, and it is not possible. There was only one who was perfect, and that was Jesus Christ. Every Christian will make mistakes and sin so long as they still walk on this earth. A person could be a genuine believer and be a backslider. In other words, they are saved by the blood of the Lamb, but they have gone the wrong way and are living in sin. God will bring such a person back into the fold at the right time by his grace and mercy.
But if a person’s entire life is patterned after the lengthy list of sins in 2nd Timothy 3, and there is no evidence of the fruit of the spirit as a pattern in their lives, what shall we say?
The purpose of this Spiritual Health Check is not to be used to judge others, but to be used to judge yourself. What is your condition? Are you fooling yourself by telling yourself that you are a Christian, even when you have no evidence in your life that you are, and when the evidence from the Word of God indicates that you are not?
Beware of being a “lukewarm” Christian, which is also an unsaved “Christian.”
This is taken from The End of All Things is At Hand by Chuck Marunde, J.D.