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Mark of the Christian
October 6, 2017
Relevance: Chapter 7, Restored by Grace


Mark of the Christian


Each person knows whether they truly meant every word in their decision prayer. They know if they felt sorry for not living their lives as God intended, repented of their sins, appropriated the atoning death of Christ, and asked for God's forgiveness. They know if they decided, for the rest of their lives, that they will love, know, obey, and follow God. They know if God is their Lord and top priority in life. Each can indeed have the assurance of his or her salvation. They only need to search their hearts and know the promises of God.

King Solomon said that God alone knows the human heart (2 Chronicles 6:30). Others cannot judge with certainty. None can be sure if another is a born-again Christian, by considering his or her religious commitments or professed beliefs, even when that person is morally good or likable.

But we can have a good idea of a tree by looking at its fruit. Jesus said, "A tree is identified by its fruit. If a tree is good, its fruit will be good. If a tree is bad, its fruit will be bad" (Matthew 12:33). We must be careful here. No tree is perfect, and so we cannot expect perfect fruit. Also, Jesus did not suggest that we compare fruit across trees. We are to look at a person's life and see if there is a transformation that defies all natural explanation. If someone's love for God is like a blazing fire, its light and heat are easily seen and felt. As the Holy Spirit renews a born-again Christian, the supernatural fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) are plainly observable.

One trait, however, stands out. God is love (1 John 4:16), and therefore the most distinguishing mark of a child of God is love. The entire law of God, which expresses his creation intention for humans, centers around love. Jesus said, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength," and he continued with the second greatest commandment, "Love your neighbor as yourself" (Mark 12:30-31). The second one is widely accepted as the Golden Rule of Ethics.

The Golden Rule applies to all people within reach of your help, whether convenient or not. Again, we need to exercise caution. We are to love people, not their wrongdoings. Love is not a reason to condone misbehavior that hurts.

The world has high expectations for Christian love, and rightly so because it's the nature of God, and therefore the nature of us as his images. So, "let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds" (Hebrews 10:24).

"We need to separate the acts of love from the emotions of fondness and compassion, and Christian love is more in both aspects. We've experienced God’s intense affection and compassion towards us in his tearing himself apart, so to speak, to offer us the redemption by grace alone ... Our own experience of his love motivates us and gives us a model to emulate. When God shows us a real need of someone we don’t like, it’s time for us to learn submission and pray for strength to choose and do the good work of love. By so doing, he changes our hearts as well. Extensive and persistent acts of Christian love have a powerful effect on our society. Such acts build faith in the goodness of sanctified humanity and give hope to those who are oppressed or in pain." (RG, 161-162)

God is the God of miracles. If by his grace some people are brought to the gospel truth, they will be our dear brothers and sisters in heaven. We have no enemies, but one. The Devil is hell-bent to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10). He is our only enemy. There is no room for any hostility towards people, especially due to differences in background, appearance, or opinion. God doesn't want "anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance" (2 Peter 3:9).

Christians love others with love received from God. We receive and get all soaked up with his love, and release it. Receive and release. It is a constant process in the Christian life.


Notes:


From Darkness to Light
170504, Ch.1, What is Heaven?
170512, Ch.5, Good and Evil
170519, Ch.5, Image of God
170526, Ch.6, All Have Sinned
170602, Ch.6, Isaiah Prophecies
170609, Ch.6, Lamb of God
170616, Ch.6, Decision Prayer

New Life in Christ
170623, Ch.7, Fruit of the Spirit
170630, Ch.7, Time with God
170707, Ch.7, Life Together
170714, Ch.7, Messiah's Return
170728, Ch.7, Audacious Faith
171006, Ch.7, Mark of the Christian
171027, Ch.7, Christian Identities

Growing in Christ
171110, Know the Bible
171210, Christ is Central
180302, Satan Exposed

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