|THE MARKS OF A CHRISTIAN|
FOCUS ON THE SCRIPTURES
Having heard the Gospel of Christ, they repented and believed the Gospel. Having placed their trust in Jesus as Savior and Lord, and their confidence in Him for Salvation, they were baptized into Christ, and they were admitted, at once, into the Christian fellowship of believers. In Christ, they are known as Christians. They are walking in the teachings of Christ and are holding fast this faith. The word of Christ is dwelling in them richly. They have embarked on a spiritual journey that is to last for ever, an eternal journey. Christians experience the absolute best of all in this life "the abundant life," and the best of all in life for ever in eternity. Christians, confidently and expectantly, look forward to a home forever, in eternal peace, joy and happiness, together with all of those redeemed; and with the Redeemer, Jesus Christ; and with the Omnipotent, Omnipresent, Omniscient God, the Father; and with the multitude of the Heavenly Host.
What is there about Christians that sets them apart from all other persons? For the answer to this question, we must look to the inspired teachings of the New Testament as recorded in the original language that was in common use at the time they were originally written.
, and his influence is seen everywhere this subject is written about, discussed and treated. Many have been and are under the influence of Satan's erroneous views and principles, regarding bitterness and wrath and anger and slander, without perceiving, designing or intending it. Christians do not harbor and control these debilitating, evil, sinful and harmful practices, and then allow them to surface in their lives for certain circumstances that Satan says are proper and right. How can they, seeing that they have put off the old man with all of these evil practices?
and they have put on the new man which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him, and they are always rejecting every appearance of evil as having any place whatsoever in their lives. They chose to remove these evil practices and replace them with the fruits of the resident Spirit of Christ: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. They have put on love, and the peace of Christ rules in their hearts. The evidence is now in their daily lives: The Marks of a Christian.
Having put on love, and with the peace of Christ ruling in their hearts, those who display The Marks of a Christian are no longer bitter, angry, and vengeful. "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death" (Romans 8:1-2 NASB). They are not among those who just say they are Christian and then live like the devil. They are, in fact, and truth, Christian as evidenced by the choices they make in their whole new way of living. Because of the resident Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, they no longer live just like the rest of the world does in anger, wrath, bitterness, and unforgiveness. They no longer require that others should squirm and crawl and ask them for forgiveness before they can forgive. They have heard and believe and practice the teachings of Christ.
The Greek verb aphiemi translated forgive in Matthew 6:14-15; Matthew 18:21; Mark 11:25-25; Luke 11:4; and Luke 17:3-4; means primarily, according to Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon: "to send from one’s self. 1. To send away; a. to bid go away or depart; b. to send forth, yield up, emit, forgive; c. to let go , let alone, let be; d. to let go, give up, keep no longer." Forgiveness, as here used, is the way Christians are to respond, in their own heart, to the injustices of others and it plays a vital role in their whole new way of living. In aphiemi, forgiving others, Christians are freeing themselves from the exceedingly harmful effects of holding grudges, resentment, bitterness, malice and ill-will towards others. Christians know full well that enmity lies in the heart; it is deep and malignant and if allowed to remain will spread. By following the teachings of Christ in aphiemi forgiving others, they send it away from one’s own self. They put off the old self and they experience the joy and peace that comes from walking in their new life. -- The Marks of a Christian.
and receive fully God's divine gift of forgiveness which brings inner healing and according to recent medical studies substantial improvements in physical health and well-being. The health benefits of forgiveness are enormous. This is clearly shown in a number of recent scientific studies concerning the biochemical correlates of emotions. It has now been established that information is flowing throughout our bodies; -- molecules are being released and they are diffusing all over the body; and the molecules are tickling the receptors that are on the surface of the cells. The scientific community has developed ways to measure these receptors, which are described as similar to satellite dishes, millions of them all over one cell. The cells are being told whether they should divide or not to divide, whether they should make more of this protein or that protein, whether they should turn on this gene or that gene. The health benefits of forgiveness are now medically and scientifically established. Forgiveness frees one from the incredibly toxic and debilitating drain of holding grudges.
Reference is here made to these ongoing research projects because of the medically proven and scientifically demonstrated health benefits of sincere Christian love and forgiveness.
Regarding the ongoing forgiveness research at the University Of Wisconsin, a noted psychiatrist recently said that the research may be as important to the treatment of emotional and mental disorders as the discovery of sulfa drugs and penicillin were to the treatment of infectious diseases. Their conclusion is that the forgiver discovers the paradox of forgiveness: as we give to others the gifts of mercy, generosity and moral love, we ourselves are healed.
Consider the relation between the healing of paralysis and forgiveness of sins in this event in the life of Christ: "And behold, some men were carrying on a bed a man who was paralyzed; and they were trying to bring him in, and to set him down in front of Him. And not finding any way to bring him in because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down through the tiles with his stretcher, right in the center, in front of Jesus. And seeing their faith, He said, Friend, your sins are forgiven you. And the scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, Who is this man who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins, but God alone? But Jesus, aware of their reasonings, answered and said to them, Why are you reasoning in your hearts? Which is easier, to say, Your sins have been forgiven you, or to say, Rise and walk? But in order that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins, He said to the paralytic, I say to you, rise, and take up your stretcher and go home. And at once he rose up before them, and took up what he had been lying on, and went home, glorifying God" (Luke 5:18-25 NASB).
Jesus said: "You have heard that it was said, An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. But I say to you, do not resist him who is evil; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone wants to sue you, and take your shirt, let him have your coat also. And whoever shall force you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you. You have heard that it was said, you shall love your neighbor, and hate your enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you in order that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven" (Matthew 5:38-45 NASB).
The Apostle Paul said: "Bless those who persecute you; bless and curse not. -- Never pay back evil for evil to anyone, Respect what is right in the sight of all men" (Romans 12:14, 17-18 NASB).
Christians understand well that others, for their own reasons, do what they do, for good or for bad, and as Christians they are to choose how to respond in a spirit of love. They know well that responding to injustice with love and forgiveness does not mean cooperation, approval, or complicity. In addition to following His clear teachings, in their mind's eye they see Jesus, as their example, loving and forgiving, even while being humiliated, tortured and beaten, without cause, and nailed to the cross. "And when they came to the place called The Skull, there they crucified Him and the criminals, one on the right and the other on the left. But Jesus was saying, Father forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing" (Luke 23:34 NASB). We have in His example the supreme test of love and forgiveness - love being tested. Jesus practiced what He preached.
True agape love is always rejecting evil. Christ, the perfect example of agape love, never condoned evil.
Hypocritical love that pretends to be Christian does the opposite. Alford's Greek Testament says: "our love should arise from a genuine cleaving to that which is good, and aversion from evil."
(Romans 12:10 NASB). The word picture of the original language translated brotherly love is philadelphia, not agape. Philos another Greek word for love, is combined with adelphos the Greek word for brother. This is the reason that we refer to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania as the city of brotherly love, because that is the meaning of the word in the original language. The word picture philostorgoi, translated be devoted, according to Alford's Greek Testament is "properly of love of near relations; agreeing therefore exactly with philadelphia." The Expositor's Greek Testament says: "in point of brotherly love, i.e., your love to each other as children of God. -- adelphos in the apostolic writings does not mean fellow-man, but fellow-Christian; and philadelphia is the mutual affection of the members of the Christian community." This love gives preference to one another in honor. The word picture proegoumenoi, translated give preference, according to Vincent's Word Studies In The New Testament is "to go before as a guide. Honor is the honor due from each to all. Hence, leading the way in showing the honor that is due." Be willing to let others have the credit.
Christians, walking in the Spirit, are enthusiastic and always rejoicing; rejoicing in hope
; the hope in which they are to rejoice is that of Christians. The word picture of the original language elpis, translated hope, is according to Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon "always in the New Testament in a good sense: expectation of good." So, hope is not wishful thinking but confident expectation, and here it is rejoicing in expectation. "For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one also hope for that he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it" (Romans 8:24-25 NASB).
this virtue very soon became a mark of Christians.
According to Vincent's Word Studies In The New Testament.: "The meaning is sharing in the necessities, taking part in them as one's own." Even with the many government programs in our day; welfare, unemployment insurance, Medicare and Social Security, there are still human needs that are not covered and that Christians have a responsibility to meet. Some are faced with enormous hospital and medical expenses, without adequate health insurance. All sorts of needs arise and Christians are always willing to contribute to the needs of the saints. Regarding the expression practicing hospitality, The Expositor' s Greek Testament says: "it is a form of charity much needed by traveling, exiled or persecuted Christians." Christians, devoted to the teachings of Christ, can be counted on in the matter of practicing hospitality. "Then the King will say to those on His right, Come, you are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me. Then the righteous will answer Him saying, Lord when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked and clothe You? And when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You? And the King will answer and say to them, Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me" (Matthew 25:34-40 NASB).
This kind of living produces an abundant life of peaceful vitality and excitement; of trust; expectant hope and confidence; of well-being; fulfillment, and fullness of life. This kind of living produces a life of kindness, friendliness, love and forgiveness. This kind of living produces the inner calm, a quiet spirit of security and assurance. And this kind of living produces the peace that is beyond comprehension. This is the promise of Jesus when He said: "I came that they might have life, and have it more abundantly" (John 10:10 NASB). Luke 2:13-14 NASB: "And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased." How can it be any plainer than that?
are clearly seen in the lives of those who are sincerely following the teachings of Jesus Christ.
"Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE™, © Copyright 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977 by The Lockman Foundation Used by permission." (www.Lockman.org)
©1999, 2002, 2003 by James S. Davis. All rights reserved.
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