Question:

It took me 24 years to really realize what being a follower of Christ truly means. In a nutshell, to love God and love people. My dad and I had a disagreement last night on what a true follower of Christ really is. Now, to be clear I really think there are a few "steps" to becoming a true follower. First, you need to accept God's gift, which is His Son and what he did on the cross. Now after this I feel there is one more step, the step that will prolong your relationship with Christ as you follow him and that is giving up the things in your life that God convicts you of, whatever it may be, that you may follow Him.

This is where my dad and I disagree, he feels that being a Christian is accepting God's Son into your life, but he does not agree with the conviction part. He is says that no one is perfect, which I agree with, but isn't it a heart thing? If you are giving your all for Christ isn't that what matters? I am not saying you must be perfect, but we are all new creations in Christ and must become what we now are, which includes giving up the convictions in our life, whether that be our job, our degree in school, our family, our direction in life, material wealth, etc. I feel this is why people become lukewarm Christians. People fall back into their old lifestyle because they fail to give up the things in their life that Christ has convicted them of. Would you agree that those people would be classified under the "lukewarm" Christians or not?

Also, he claims that we are to experience God and learn only through scripture. I disagree here as well. I feel like learning from Scripture is very important, but what is also important is experiencing God. What I mean by that is learning from Christ through prayer and through brokenness. I feel that the Spirit draws us to certain things in our life, even though we might not agree with it, and usually most of the time we don't, because most of the time it is what we want. So I feel like learning about what we need to do with our life and learning what we need to do for God comes from Scripture, experiencing God, learning through other people and situations, and by serving others. I feel like he is just saying Scripture is the only answer. We shouldn't be experiencing God. I believe in the psalms. Doesn't it say to be still and know God? That God will work through us? I feel like his idea of a Christian is just to read Scripture and do what the Bible tells us to do, which I don't disagree with, but I feel like he isn't getting the whole picture.

Sorry for the long message, what are your thoughts?


Answer:

All the way through you told me what you feel, but you never sought out what God said concerning these matters. Yet God warns, "He who trusts in his own heart is a fool, But whoever walks wisely will be delivered" (Proverbs 28:26). Too many people put their feelings in the driver seat. But what God teaches is that our feelings follows what we decide. "Hear, my son, and be wise; and guide your heart in the way" (Proverbs 23:19).

Let's take the matter of salvation. Both you and your father are wrong. The concept of accepting Jesus Christ in order to be saved is not found in the Bible, despite its popularity in the denominations. I went through the Bible and made a list of everything God said is connected to salvation. Take a look at What Saves a Person? You have not even begun to scratch the surface of what God said is involved in saving a man. Instead, you put your opinions and your feelings ahead of what God said; thus, you inadvertently put yourself above God. "If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen" (I Peter 4:11). Your ideas give you glory. God's ideas give God glory.

"For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ" (Galatians 1:10).

Yes, loving God and loving people are the key concepts of what Christianity is all about. But what you skip is that loving God means following Him. "For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome" (I John 5:3). And John says loving your neighbor comes down to the same thing. "By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments" (I John 5:2). You cannot love either God or your fellow man by going off doing your own thing as you see fit.

"Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, "I know Him," and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked" (I John 2:3-6).

The claim that the Spirit of God leads a person, sometimes in ways different from the teachings of the Bible, is bogus. The Bible is the teaching of the Spirit, and God does not contradict Himself! In claiming inspiration for the things he taught and wrote, Paul said, "Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. These things we also speak, not in words which man's wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual" (I Corinthians 2:12-13). This is just as Christ promised the apostles. "However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you" (John 16:13-14).

Notice that the apostles were given all the truth. Your view of the Bible declares that the Bible is inadequate, that more is needed. But Paul said, "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work" (II Timothy 3:16-17). And Peter said, "Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust" (II Peter 1:2-4). The Bible is complete and has everything we need to know concerning life and godliness.

Of course righteousness is not just book learning. The things taught to us by God have to be applied in our lives. "Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does" (James 1:21-25). But the things we do are God-directed from His word and not self-directed from our feelings.