Many people go “to church” but they aren’t really a part of the true church. I’m not talking about the Catholic Church, or the Baptist Church, or the Methodist Church, or the Lutheran Church, or the Presbyterian Church. Of course, the list is much longer than just these. There are many who go into a church building and their view is that attendance and perhaps even “membership” make them a “Christian.” Nothing could be further from the truth. Those who hold that view are wrong.
There is only one mention of “religion” in the Bible, and it talks about God’s view of pure and undefiled religion. It doesn’t cover all of the bases, but it gives us a good idea of what God’s view is.
“If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” James 1:26-27
The “religion” of a true Christian is trust in the finished work of Christ on the cross. This is faith and God provides justification and forgiveness. For by God’s grace I am saved, not by my good works. I don’t add anything to Christ’s work by being “good.” So if I do nothing with the gift offered, I am making a choice. No choice is a response.
However, once I have received the Father’s gift, I now respond in life with a view that is different. I now want to be a servant to widows and orphans, to immigrants and children, and to anyone I see that I might be able to help in small or big ways. Oh, and now that my sins are covered, I am free to keep myself unstained from the world. That is a daily walk and what Christians call sanctification. So my view is I am justified by God’s goodness and justice, satisfied by Jesus and his atoning work on the cross, followed by his victory over death.
How to Identify a Follower of Jesus
They have faith in God and in the completed work of God that results in justification. However, they are not content to accept forgiveness lightly. They realize changes are needed, buy God’s indwelling Holy Spirit. This is the process called sanctification. Ultimately, this leads to glorification. It brings glory to God and then we become completely new for ever and ever.
Five Minute Friday
This post is part of the weekly Five-Minute Friday link-up.
All scripture passages are from the English Standard Version except as otherwise noted.