In a time of heightened false profession of faith in Jesus Christ, Christian apostasy, religious deceit all around and universal spiritual declension, the Christian faithful must stand on the Bible to declare its truths with clarity and power! Among those truths is what a real Christian is in person, character, lifestyle and deeds. To attract members and fill churches, too many pastors and churches have lowered the biblical standard of what a real Christian is so that there is no clear difference in a named Christian and a person that is not except in the so-called Christian’s profession of being one and church attendance if he goes. As this edited 2012 repost asserts, the difference is far deeper.
Originally Posted March 4, 2012
Not only does biblically defined faith fill the hearts of aspiring strong men in the image of Christ, but also zeal for the triune God! As I write in The Strong Man Of God: Back To Basics,1 like the zeal of Jesus when He cleared the Temple courts of the merchants and money changers (John 2:13-17), there is a burning passion for God, the divine will, way and Word that drives authentic Christians beyond lip and nominal service. There is a fire in the soul and gut to live for and please God just as was also very evident in Bible saints such as Enoch, Daniel, Simeon, Anna, the prophetess and the apostle Paul (Genesis 5:21-24; Daniel 1; Luke 2:25-38; Philippians 3:7-14).
The apostle Paul makes it clear in Philippians 3:15-16 that he and other zealous Bible saints are not to be treated as exceptions, but the attitudinal rule or standard among all mature Christians. And that is the key: spiritual maturity. God already has planned for and built into His salvation program that those persons saved through faith in the Gospel of Christ enter in as newborn babies that must be fed and helped to grow into maturity by the instruction of His Word (1 Peter 2:1-3). While many churches today are failing to help new converts mature through proper instruction, God clearly puts the onerous on the individual believer to pursue maturity (Hebrews 5:12-14).
I write this after painful lessons learned as a pastor from newly professed Christians that backed away from being taught. While it is true that not everyone who professes faith in Christ is authentic, I wrestled with how many such souls were possibly created by my unclear proclamation of the Gospel or poor instruction on what salvation is truly all about. Later, I found all did receive the right information, but many had just not counted the cost (Luke 14:25-33). Even so, churches must do a better job of informing new believers that God expects them to grow into maturity and then helping them to do so as a matter of intentional discipleship not just general Bible study.
The fire of God powerfully brought and displayed by the Holy Spirit at Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4) burns in the soul of every genuine newborn Christian. So, zeal as a supernatural work of God in believers is manifested and operative at spiritual birth. Thereafter, through proper instruction the new convert is helped to understand this fire is normal, eternal (since the source, the Holy Spirit is eternal) and meant by God to overflow his life and service as a matter of character.2 The believer is also taught he is to do nothing that would quench the Spirit’s fire such as embrace again unbelief and self-sufficiency in any form or live in willful sin (1 Thessalonians 5:19). Finally, he is to be taught when God seems distant, it is absolutely okay to thirst for Him (Psalm 42:2)!
As seen in the lives of aspiring strong men of God in the image of Christ, authentic, maturing Christians are far from living a mere profession of faith. They are eternally aglow with the fiery zeal of and for God in their hearts.3 Holy Spirit-filled living transcends mere human religious profession and effort in empty, dead and powerless religion (1 Corinthians 4:20).4 If your experience of Christianity is not as I have described, take your spiritual pulse and make sure you have been born again having truly believed the one and only Gospel of Jesus Christ taught in the Bible (John 3:3-8; Romans 8:8-9; 1 Corinthians 15:1-4).
In a brief, 2012 New Year specific blog not to be reposted in full, I wrote the following unedited. “In a nut shell, the Gospel is God’s good news that out of the overflow of His love and grace, He sent His Son, Jesus Christ from Heaven to earth in order to suffer and die on the cross for the sins of the world. He was buried and rose again bodily on the third day that whoever will believe on Him and His sacrifice may in all repentance have their sins forgiven and be brought to eternal, spiritual life by the entry of the Holy Spirit into his inner being. It is a matter of faith and deep yearning to be right with God through prayer that the Gospel does its work in the human soul (Romans 10:6-13).” Moving beyond mere profession of faith, such souls live on purpose to please God and do His will.5
1 The book is available at all major internet book sellers, by order at your favorite brick and mortar bookstore or in the Strong Man Store.
2 Purposely introducing men to the Christian faith, teaching them biblical manhood which includes divinely willed Christ-like character in traits such as zeal to help them
mature in Christ, is the important work of The Strong Man Of God Men’s Group Study, available in the Strong Man Store.
3 Celebrating forty years as a Christian, I write about the zeal in me from and for my God and His causes in an April 23, 2017 post, Serving God From The Heart, under
the category, Glory To God!
4 See the August-September 2016 posts on Christianity as a powerless religion of human invention beginning with the two-part, Christianity The Religion Of Men on
August 21st under the category, Instruction.
5 This is the heart of every aspiring strong man and great woman of God in the image of Jesus Christ!
In the midst of teaching “The Character Of The Strong Man Of God” which is Unit Two of The Strong Man Of God Men’s Group Study1 to locally incarcerated inmates as basic instruction for biblical manhood, I remain amazed at the lack of godly character among professed Christian men out here in the “free” world. From pastors to men in the pews over my forty year journey I have dealt with many that have no shame in being faithless, proud, disobedient, disloyal to God, weak in sin, dispassionate and cowardly about Kingdom causes, spiritual slackers, impatient, ungodly, dishonest, liars and unmerciful.2 Their lack of godly character is not even an issue for these men.
Here’s where I get accused of being a “goody two shoes,” “idealistic,” “too serious,” “super religious,” “unrealistic” and “legalistic” as a “self-righteous Pharisee” since God does not require perfection or that kind of “extreme” devotion. Instead, as I hear so much in Christian media and the churches today, God is more concerned with what He can do for us; how He can make us happy, healthy and wealthy. When character is mentioned, it is only as a means to the end of manipulating God into doing what we want, rather than what the Bible actually teaches as His priority will for our development and regeneration as eternal image bearers of our Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 8:29)!
Faithful Bible students know that in point of fact God cannot be manipulated and that these mostly spiritual charlatans are deceived and deceivers as false teachers who will meet their just end (Galatians 1:6-10; Philippians 3:17-19; 2 Timothy 3:1-9, 13; 2 Peter 2:1-3, 3:14-18). And if you are one following after them, you will also receive their reward unless you come to your spiritual senses and repent before it is too late in having become hardened into resisting the truths of God’s Word (2 Timothy 2:22-26, 3:14-17). We were redeemed through the blood of Jesus to the divine end of being “transformed” into His image which includes His godly character (2 Corinthians 3:18, NKJV).
What is Christ-likeness but God-likeness since He is the very “image of the invisible God,” (John 14:7-9; Colossians 1:15, 2:9; Hebrews 1:1-4, NKJV)? All of who God is in nature and character Christ is! For example, in nature God is love and so is Christ. In character, God is holy, righteous, just and true and so is Christ. Man was designed and created by God to uniquely display the divine image in nature and character, but sin was the foil through our first forefather, Adam (Genesis 1:26, 3:1-11). Christ the eternal Word and Son of God took on mortal flesh and came as a second Adam to redeem the willing and restore the divine image in us (John 1:1-18; 1 Corinthians 15:47-49).
Now, God renews the divine image in those who become Christians by the Holy Spirit who indwells and brings us to spiritual birth with a new nature (John 3:1-8; Titus 3:4-7). The sanctifying work of God through the Spirit thereafter is to effect and perfect the renewing of the divine image in us with our cooperation by purposely transforming and conforming us to the image of Christ as was earlier stated. Select attributes of the divine nature such as love, joy and goodness are displayed in us through His inner presence as natural fruit. We cooperate by being willing at all times to crucify the deeds of the flesh (Romans 12:1-2; Galatians 5:16-25; Ephesians 5:8-12; Colossians 3:1-17).
A number of the unique divine attributes of character and those otherwise that are desirable by Him, God must construct in us. Christ--who is our example in all things--through His mortal sojourn among us fully demonstrates this reality. In divine character, for example, He was perfectly faithful to God (1 Corinthians 1:9; Hebrews 3:1-6). As I write in my book, The Strong Man Of God: Back To Basics3 and teach in the men’s group study from Scripture, the Lord Jesus as a Man had to learn obedience through all that He suffered (Hebrews 5:8).4 Preceding obedience certainly was faith and humility as traits of divinely approved character He would have to put into practice which we are also called to do and grow in (Philippians 2:5-8; Hebrews 12:1-2; 2 Peter 1:1-11).
Indeed, contrasting every sinful way of professed Christian men in character defect I listed at the beginning of this post, Christ perfectly displayed what pleases God even as the Father proclaimed of Him on the mountain (Matthew 17:1-7; 2 Peter 1:16-18). So, having repeatedly affirmed my own failure to yet arrive at perfection in Christ, I nevertheless, share in common with all God’s sold out aspiring strong men of history a daily yearning to do so (Philippians 3:12-14). And though it is quite painful at times, I understand God must chisel, hammer and nail in my life to construct the godly character of Christ in me because it is absolutely essential to holy living if men will see Him in peace and rule now as well as in His Kingdom come like Him (Hebrews 12:3-17; Revelation 1:4-8, 2:26-29)!
1 Learn more about the Strong Man Of God Men’s Group Study and how you could possibly have me come teach it with the men of your church or men’s organization through
the Strong Man Institute on the Strong Man Of God Web Site.
2 Each of these ungodly character traits is the polar opposite of what God wills for His aspiring strong men as I teach in the Strong Man Of God Men’s Group Study.
3 The Strong Man Of God: Back To Basics is available through all major internet booksellers, by order from your favorite brick and mortar bookstore and in the Strong Man
4 Walk through a short presentation about what the strong man of God is and even read a chapter of The Strong Man Of God: Back To Basics for a fuller explanation on our
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