How can we tell if our faith is genuine? In this excerpt from John’s gospel, Jesus defines the hallmarks of a Christian.
On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified. Jn 7:37-39
“If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink”, Jesus first describes a Christian as thirsty. When a person physically needs water they become thirsty and realise they need water. Similarly, a Christian is someone who has realised they need something they do not have. In the beginning of his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus describes a Christian as someone who is “poor in spirit”, someone who has become humble before God. A Christian realises they need the Spirit of God, to make them right before God – to justify and purify them, as well as to enable them to do Gods will, and accepts the freely offered grace of God. Anyone who thinks they can make themselves right before God through their own efforts, without God’s help, is not a Christian. Anyone who believes they need the Spirit of God, offered freely by his grace, but does not accept it, is not a Christian.
“Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said”, Jesus secondly describes a Christian as someone who believes in him, according to his word – the Scriptures. God has made himself known through the bible, that Christians can know him. As such, any authentic experience of God a Christian has, will be in accordance with the bible, as God will not contradict himself. Accordingly, any experience which is contrary to the bible is not from God.
“Streams of living water will flow from him”, Jesus finally describes a Christian as someone who’s behaviour is governed by the Holy Spirit. In comparison to their old, sinful nature, there should be a difference in their conduct, as the Spirit works in them, producing his fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Gal 5:22-23) This is not to say they will be perfect, as the sinful nature will still be contended with until death, but that the Spirit will have a significant impact in their lives.
In the evening, we continued looking at Paul’s letter to the Ephesian church.
Here Paul is instructing those in slavery to serve their masters although they were serving God. This is not to say that slavery is condoned by God. Similarly Masters should treat their slaves well, as they will be answerable to the Master of all in heaven, with whom all men are equal.
Coupled with Eph 4:28, the same principle can be applied to us today. Regardless of whether our work is paid or unpaid, inside or outside of the home, we should work as though working for God. That we would be worthy of our wage, as well as then having the means to do God’s will.
We should do an honest job, without dishonestly cutting corners, even though men might not see what we do, God sees everything. We should also not see work as an end, but as a means to do God’s will.
Of course, this is not to say that this is done to make us right before God, but that this is done because we are right with God. If we are right with God, his Spirit will work in us, enabling us to do this, in conflict with our sinful nature.