How to Determine If One Is a Christian

Paul Before Agrippa

When Paul was on trial before King Agrippa, he used the opportunity to preach the gospel (Acts 26:19-23). One of the apostle’s goals was to persuade the king to become a Christian. Agrippa recognized this because he stated, “In a short time you will persuade me to become a Christian” (Acts 26:28).

We are trying to do the same thing today that Paul was doing on that occasion – trying to persuade people to become a Christian. However, if we are going to persuade them to become a Christian, we need to know what a Christian is. Also, they need to understand what a Christian is before they can be persuaded to become one.

So how can we determine if one is a Christian? How can one determine if he/she is a Christian or not? We can consult the Scriptures to find an answer.Continue Reading

The Way (Part 3): Belonging To The Way

The Way: What it Means to Be a Disciple of Jesus

Now Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest, and asked for letters from him to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, both men and women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem” (Acts 9:1-2).

Persecution against the church began with the death of Stephen (Acts 8:1). Saul continued this persecution with a plan to go to Damascus to arrest disciples and bring them back to Jerusalem. The ones who were targeted for persecution were those who were “belonging to the Way.” We will discuss the idea of persecution in the next lesson.

However, before these individuals were targeted, they first had to belong to “the Way.” In this lesson, we are going to see what the Scriptures teach about “belonging to the Way” – how to become a part of this group and remain in it.Continue Reading

God’s Provisions in the Plan of Salvation

Wedding Feast

The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son. And he sent out his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding feast, and they were unwilling to come. Again he sent out other slaves saying, ‘Tell those who have been invited, “Behold, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and my fattened livestock are all butchered and everything is ready; come to the wedding feast”’” (Matthew 22:1-4).

Salvation is impossible without the Lord. Peter said, “There is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). Jesus said that He is “the way” and that “no one comes to the Father but through [Him]” (John 14:6). As He explained in the parable above, He has made everything ready for us to be part of His kingdom and enjoy salvation (Matthew 22:4).

What has God done to make salvation ready for us? From before “the foundation of the world,” God “chose” to save us (Ephesians 1:4). This “eternal purpose [has been] carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Ephesians 3:11). Jesus said, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16). By sending Jesus to the earth, we can be “reconciled to God through [His] death” and “be saved by His life” (Romans 5:10). We cannot earn salvation (cf. Luke 17:10). The reason is because “all have sinned” (Romans 3:23) and “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). Therefore, it was necessary for God to provide a plan by which we could be saved.

In His word, we can read about the plan the Lord has given for us to follow in order to be saved – hear, believe, repent, confess, be baptized, and be faithful. In each of these steps, God has provided what is necessary for us to do what He requires of us. In this article, we are going to discuss these provisions that He has given in relation to the plan of salvation.
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You Have Become Dull of Hearing

Ear, static

In making a point about the superiority of Christ’s priesthood over the priesthood of Aaron, the Hebrew writer cited the priesthood of Melchizedek. Since Jesus was “a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek” (Hebrews 5:10; cf. Psalm 110:4), His priesthood was superior. He would go on to explain why this proved the superiority of Jesus’ priesthood later in the epistle (Hebrews 7:1-10).

However, he paused the discussion about comparing the priesthoods because it was “hard to explain” (Hebrews 5:11), even though it was certainly not impossible. The problem was not that the facts were difficult. Instead, the problem was that these brethren were “dull of hearing” (Hebrews 5:11). As the Hebrew writer would explain, this problem affected more than just their understanding of Jesus’ priesthood – it had the potential of costing them their souls.

We need to understand what it means to be “dull of hearing,” what the result is of being in that condition, and how to fix it.
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Always Learning, But Never Coming to Know the Truth

Bible study with coffee

Paul warned Timothy of those who were “always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Timothy 3:7). How is it possible for one to continue to progress in his learning but never come to know the truth of God’s word? There are three ways this can happen. Any one of these, or a combination of the three, will prevent someone from coming to know the truth.
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Using Our Bodies as Instruments of Righteousness

Romans 6:13

Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace” (Romans 6:12-14).

Our bodies can be used one of two ways – either for God or for sin. As Christians, we are to present our bodies as living sacrifices to God (Romans 12:1). Our bodies are “for the Lord” (1 Corinthians 6:13); therefore, Paul said, “Glorify God in your body” (1 Corinthians 6:20).

How do we use the members of our bodies as instruments of righteousness? Let us consider what the Scriptures teach about this.
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The Shepherd and the Sheep

Shepherd

Jesus described Himself as “the good shepherd [who] lays down His life for the sheep” (John 10:11). A shepherd provides guidance, sustenance, and protection for the flock. No one is able to provide the same care for us as Jesus. He willingly sacrificed Himself for us (John 10:17-18). Therefore, it is vitally important that we have Christ as our shepherd.

How do we become one of His sheep? And how do we remain in His fold? Notice what Jesus said:

My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me” (John 10:27).

Let us briefly examine this phrase to see how we can take advantage of the care provided by the Good Shepherd.
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