Definition of a Christian
The definition of a Christian is a person that has the Holy Spirit of God living inside of them. If you don’t have the Spirit of Christ, you are not His. Is that a true statement? You cannot be a Christian if the Spirit of the living God does not inhabit your inner man. Are we all agreed with that?
If the Spirit of the living God lives inside of me, I may not be acquainted with all of Jesus’ ways - “Go baptize in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost and teach them to obey everything I commanded you.” There is a process involved in becoming mature Christians. There is a teaching process involved even after you have the Holy Spirit, no problem. But I guarantee you a person that has the Holy Spirit inside of them is going to have that resonant frequency when you speak the truth; they have an anointing on them that is real and not counterfeit. They are going to hear you. They might be a little afraid, they might be a little confused at first. It may be a little hard. It’s not what they are used to. But something inside of them is going to be saying, “Yea, yea. I knew that, I knew that. I never heard that before, but I knew that.” That’s the definition of a Christian. There is an anointing on them that is real and not counterfeit. They don’t need anyone to prove something to them with 48 proof texts for them to believe it. The Spirit of God, He came, He said He would give us a new heart. That He would put His Spirit in us and cause us to keep His commands and decrees. That is the very definition of the new covenant. It’s not even Christianity if it doesn’t include that.
So we could have a confidence that if a person is really saved, although we don’t want to lead the lamb’s hard all in one day that they die. There is certainly room for patience and working things through. It’s also fair to say that you can’t kill a person that is genuinely alive in Christ and you can’t make alive a person that is genuinely dead in their transgressions and sins. So there is not really that much that we can do to destroy a person by going too fast. We give ourselves too much credit. We are not God. If there relationship with the living God is real, we don’t have to baby them for the next 25 years.
You can actually speak these things and work them out and they are committed to work them out with you. God will lead us all through the mutual combined effect of what God has done individually in each of our lives and then melted us into corporately.
We really don’t have to be scared to death of the fallout. If what we are trying to do is keep a budget together, pay for our building, pay our salaries - if that’s what we are trying to do is hold numbers together, yes, we have a big problem on our hands, because this is going to be repulsive to a lot of people, the ones that aren’t saved in particular. But if we don’t care about our salaries, if we don’t give a rip about our mortgage payment and our advertisement in the yellow pages and our reputation at the pastoral meetings, if we don’t care about anything but Jesus’ honor, we are going to be okay. Because we are going to be able to walk it through, we are going to lay down our lives for each other, we are going to be patient, we are going to keep going after people, caring about them. It’s not just a take it or leave it proposition. We are really going to love people, and the Life will be the Light of men. Those that aren’t truly saved anyway, those that aren’t interested in Jesus will either become mad enough to find out what in the world’s going on here and find Jesus because of the scandal in their life now that they have had to face for the first time in 25 years because finally we are representing Jesus rather than just some thing, or they are going to run for the hills and go join something else, which is fine, because there is nothing you can do for them anyway if they are committed to compromise and they are committed to lukewarmness. You can’t do anything for them and you don’t need or want their money.
All this has to do with some very sovereign and important issues. It’s worth risking, even if we are in leadership, maybe especially if we are in leadership. It’s okay to trust God that God knows those that are His, His inscription is clear. It’s really going to be okay. It may cost you your reputation and your salary, but that’s fine because you were going to be giving that up anyway.
I throw a little side note in along the terms of what is a Church. The Bible calls the Church the Body of Christ. There are many, many references that the Church is to be the actual connection to the Head which is in heaven of Christ Jesus Himself. I would submit that it’s not rational to think that we are really a church if a person can remain in our midst for 5 years or 5 weeks, let alone 25 years and remain unsaved. Jesus did not have that effect on people, where 25 years with Zaccheus and he still doesn’t get it. It’s not like that. He had one meal with Jesus and he repaid in a multiplied way everything he had ever taken. Again and again an encounter with the real Jesus has a result of turning a man both from their sin and to Him, or they walk away sorrowfully like the rich young ruler because they just don’t want it as bad as they want their own self-life.
But it’s not really the Body of Christ if it doesn’t represent Christ. It doesn’t have the same results that Jesus did in His physical body. I’m not saying there aren’t saved people there. Might be 50% of the people are as saved as the apostle Paul himself. But that’s not a Church if 5 and 25 years can go by and Zaccheus can just in there and be a glutton and a thief and there is no affect at all on 50% of the population week after week. That’s not a Church. Saved people - I’m not disputing that. Glory to God! He can save our souls in any environment, in any situation. It isn’t dependent on utopia. I’m so thankful for that. But don’t call that a church if 25 or 50 or 75% of the population can remain unsaved year after year and after year and feel totally comfortable. They wouldn’t have been comfortable with Jesus for 25 years. The rich young ruler, as wonderful as he was, was not comfortable with Jesus. And it’s not Jesus’ Body or His Church if we can feel comfortable and live in our sin year after year after year. Call it something else, but don’t call it church. Saved people, yes. Church, Body of Christ, no. It’s impossible. It’s not logical; it’s not scriptural to call that church if it doesn’t represent Jesus accurately. It can’t be a church. I want to take a minute just to redefine that word for us, because we have the idea that if you put a sign up, you’re a church. If you hire a staff and build a building and have services and the sign says “church” and the bulletin says “church,” then it’s a church because we have a christian belief system.
Well, God is much more jealous for that word than we have been in our century. I want us to learn how to be jealous for that word. Not faulting anyone, not accusing anyone, not trying to make any accusation about any particular person’s salvation, nothing of the kind. The blood of Jesus is very potent, and those that have truly called on His name are truly saved. That’s not an issue. But I am saying that a Church is that which is connected to the Head and it’s able to cope and deal with things the same way Jesus was. In Ephesus the seven lampstands which are the seven Churches, in Revelation 2, Jesus said, “I’m going to take away your lampstand if you don’t remember your first love and do the things you did at first. I will take away your right to be called a Church if you don’t turn things around.” Because they had the right belief system, they did a lot of good works; they had Apollos and Aquila and Priscilla, Paul and Timothy, Luke and Titus, and all these men that were teachers just a few years earlier. Their doctrine was marvelous; they tested false apostles and threw them out. They went through all these different things, all these combinations. Some marvelous things that most “churches” today wouldn’t even get close to, and Jesus still said, “I’m going to take away your right to be called a Church. I’m going to take away your lampstand. The seven lampstands are the seven Churches. I’m going to take away your lampstand if you don’t turn things around on My terms.” Because it calls itself a church, has a lot of people, has a good doctrine, does good works does not make it a church. Jesus decides what a Church is. It’s not everything that just decides to be one. That’s another reason why you don’t just go out and start something, because that isn’t how a Church is born. “I will build my Church.” “Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders build in vain.”
I realize these are radical thoughts, but some of you we may never see again the rest of our earthly lives. It’s worth taking a chance to give you an opportunity to chew on some of these things. I hope we will see you again. That’s our hearts’ desire for being here, is that we will have lifelong relationships, not just ideas. Some of you may never want to see us again, so we may not.