HOW TO RECOGNIZE THOSE WHO TRULY FOLLOW JESUS CHRIST

In  a world of religious confusion,  how does one recognize those who practice true Christianity?

Is  there  something that one could observe that  would  indicate that  an organization is practicing God's ways or that a  person is a  true child of God?  The answer is yes!  The elect of  God can be identified and separated from those who are not the elect.

In the following few paragraphs, some major behavioral  traits to look for when deciding if people are  guided  by the spirit of God will be reviewed.  

Love For God's People

A  major sign of God's people is their love and concern  for  one another:

"By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if we have love one to another" (Jn.13:35 Para.).

While this would not seem to be a major sign of God's people,  it stands  out  in a world torn with strife, war,  divorce,  murder, anger,  hatred, and violence.  Love and true concern for  another human being is rare indeed and it is truly a sign of the people who follow God the Father and his son Jesus Christ who loved humanity enough to give his  life, so they could have salvation.

The Law of God

One  indication that someone is following God's way of  life  is that  they  will   understand and be practicing all  of  the  ten commandments as well as many other laws of God.  

The  Elect  of  God  recognize that God has set  in  motion  laws that will bring every good thing and an abundant and full life if these laws are obeyed. God's people will boldly  proclaim that his laws have not  been  destroyed, but have been expanded by Jesus  Christ  to cover every aspect of human activity (Isa.42:21; Matt.chp.5).

Jesus says, "If you love me, keep my commandments" (Jn.14:15 Para.).

The  apostle  John has a stinging rebuke for those who  say  that they follow God, but do not practice his law:

"He  that says, I know him, and does not keep his commandments, is  a liar, and has no truth in him" (1.Jn.2:4 Para.).

The people of God recognize that God's law is one of his greatest gifts to mankind and they believe what king David said: "Your word is as a lamp before my feet, and lights my path" (Psa.119:105 Para.).

They Love God and His Law

"This is how we know that we love the children of God: by  loving God, and keeping his commandments.  This is love for God: that we keep  his commandments: and his commandments are not  burdensome" (1.Jn.5:2-3 Para.).

The Sabbath and Annual Observances

Another mark of God's people is that they observe God's commanded  observances. Moreover, people who follow God's  ways observe his weekly Sabbath, which is the fourth commandment:

"Speak  you  also  to the children of Israel,  saying,  Truly  my sabbaths  you  shall  keep; for it is a sign between  me  and  you throughout your generations, that you may know that I am the  Lord who does sanctify you . . . Six days may work be done; but  in  the seventh is the sabbath of rest, holy to the Lord: whosoever  does any  work in the sabbath day, he shall surely be put to  death . . . Wherefore  the  children  of Israel shall keep  the  sabbath [Heb. Shabbat. The weekly sabbath], to observe the sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant.  It  is a sign between me and the  children  of  Israel forever . . . " (Ex.31:13-17 KJV).

A Perpetual Covenant

The requirement to observe the Sabbath and the festival days was not a  temporary command and it has not been canceled. The people of God observe these days, which are holy  to him and a perpetual covenant and sign between  God  and his people forever. See also Isa.56:1-6; 58:13; 66:22-23.

The prophet Ezekiel was inspired to write that the commanded festival days are a sign of a true follower of God:

"Moreover, I also gave them my Sabbaths [Heb.shabbaton. The festivals], to be a sign between  me and them, that they might know that I am the Lord that sanctifies them . . . And hallow my Sabbaths; and they shall be a sign between me  and  you,  that you may know that I am the   Lord  your  God" (Ezk.20:12,20 Para).  

A Sign of Obedience

A  person can keep nine of the Ten Commandments of God almost  in complete  secrecy,  and no one will be the wiser.  Someone  may  even keep the royal law of love in relative secrecy.  Even though the practice of these laws shows a Godly attitude and is  extremely important in maintaining Godly character, it does not impact  the lives of people in the same way that practicing  the weekly Sabbath and the annual observances does.  

It  is  almost impossible for others not to notice a  person  who keeps God's special observances. The first thing that is noticed is that they do not perform their normal work or business on  the Sabbath or annual festival days. If all of these observances fell on a weekend or on days when a person did not have to go to  work or do business, they could go by relatively unnoticed.  But, these observances fall on different days throughout the year, which makes it impossible to hide the fact that a person is observing them.

When people voluntarily honor and practice the observance of these days, a very profound statement is being made.  Their actions show that they believe this is the way to  please  and worship God. Their actions also indicate that they believe that those who  are  not observing these days are not worshipping God correctly.  One of  the reasons  the  world hates God's children is that  God's children practice the same worship system that Jesus did. See Jn.15:12,17; Lk.17:14; Matt.24:9.

Jesus sums up the general attitude of people, while  speaking to Nicodemus:

"He  that believes not is condemned already, because he  has  not believed  in the name of the only begotten Son of God.  And  this is  the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and  men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were  evil.  For everyone that does evil hates the light, neither comes to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.  But he that does truth comes to  the light, that his deeds may be made  manifest,  that they are wrought in God"  (Jn.3:18-21 Para).

Human nature is the opposite of God's nature, therefore, it results  in the hatred of the things of God. The vast majority  of people  today  do not love truth; they love evil.  This  fact  is evidenced by their disobedience of God's  laws,  statutes,  and judgments.  This is why  the people of God are hated. Jesus  was hated because he truly observed and practiced all of God's law.

Because  Jesus  faithfully  practiced God's  law,   his  behavior became  a condemnation of those who professed to keep it, but  in reality, they  did not.  This same hatred will be directed toward anyone who truly follows God's way of worship.

Practicing the law of God, which includes the  observance of the weekly Sabbath and annual observances, is  a sign of  those who  are  truly  the children of God.  See  Ex.13:9;  Isa.56:1-6; 58:13; 66:22-23.

Separate From False Religions

In  a letter to the elect at Corinth, the apostle  Paul  exhorts them to avoid mixing the truth of God with paganism. He also tells them to separate themselves from the religions of that day:

"Wherefore  come out from among them, and be you  separate,  says the  Lord,  and touch not the unclean thing; and I  will  receive you" (2.Cor.6:17 Para.). See also verses 14-16.

A  child of God must neither participate in  nor be a part of  this world's religions. Participation in this worlds religions is spiritual adultery, because the elect of God are the spiritual Bride of Christ and are his  ambassadors to this world. Therefore, they must accurately represent God  and his way of life. See 2.Cor.5:20; 6:14-16; Rev.19:7-9.

The Preaching of the Kingdom

After  being crucified and resurrected from the dead,  Jesus  instructed his disciples as to what he wanted his followers to do:

"Go you therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them into the name  of  the  Father, and of the Son, and of  the  holy  spirit: Teaching  them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the world" (Matt.28:19-20 Para.).

Notice,  Jesus  told  his disciples to teach the  things  he  had commanded.   Christ was not referring only to the things  he  had taught  during his earthly ministry in human form; he also  meant for  them to  teach the things he had taught  Israel  before  he became flesh. Please read Jn.1:1-11; Eph.3:9; 2.Tim.3:16 and our study papers concerning who God is.

The Government of God

"Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into  Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, And saying, The  time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent you, and believe the gospel" (Mk.1:14-15 Para.).

This  is the same gospel that the elect of God will be  preaching (Matt.24:14; 28:19-20).

"But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other  gospel to  you than that which we have preached to you, let him  be  accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, if any man  preach any  other gospel to you than that you have received, let him  be accursed" (Gal.1:8-9 KJV).

These  are strong words! However, they  do show how important  it is  to  God that his people preach the right  message:  No  other message is acceptable.  

The Elect of God will be doing the work Jesus instructed them  to do in preaching the gospel (good news) of the soon-coming Kingdom of God.  The true gospel of the Kingdom of God is much different from  what is popularly taught today. It is a gospel so  dynamic,  so powerful, so diametrically opposed to what is popularly taught that the vast majority of people reject it when they hear it. Surprising as it is, Jesus Christ did not come to make this world  a  better  place in which to live under its  present  leadership:

"I  have  given  them your word; and the world  has  hated  them, because  they  are  not of the world, even as I am  not  of  this world.   I pray not that you should take them out of  the world, but that you should keep them from the evil.  They are not of the world,  even  as  I am not  of  the world"  (Jn.17:14-16 Para.).  See Matt.10:34-35; ch.24; Mk.chp.13; Rev.5:9-10; 11:15; 20:4-6.

To Become an Immortal Being

God the Father and Jesus Christ have  a plan by which mankind may be  born into the very Family of God. This plan involves  repentance, forgiveness of sin, baptism, full redemption, and salvation (See Acts 2:38; 3:19). No other people but the elect of God truly understand  that  human  beings have the  opportunity  to  become immortal  beings in the Family of God.

The Apostle John writes, "Beloved, now we are the sons of God, and it does not yet  appear what we  shall be: but we know that, when he  shall  appear,  we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is" (1 Jn.3:2 Para.).

Jesus  himself was criticized for saying he was the son  of  God, but he answered this criticism by stating,

"Is  it not   written in your law, I said, "You are gods?"  If he called them gods, to whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken"  (Jn.10:34-35 Para.).

The  Elect are destined to be born into the Family  of  God! Almost  no  one  understands the profound nature  of  this  vital teaching.  Jesus said that this is another earmark of those  whom God has called out of this world:

 "It  is given to you to know the mysteries of the Kingdom  of Heaven" (Matt.13:11 Para.).

The Fruit of the Spirit

Because it  is  the possession of God's spirit that  makes  one  a member of the body of Christ, those who are the elect of God must bear unmistakable evidence of those fruits. Jesus tells us how to tell the  difference between those who are  his  followers  and those  who  are not:

"Beware  of false prophets, which come in sheep's  clothing,  but inwardly  they are ravening wolves. You shall know them by  their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree brings forth good fruit; but a  corrupt  tree brings forth evil fruit" (Matt.7:15-17 Para.).

Look  at the fruit (i.e., results) of this world's religious  and political  systems:  crime, hunger, poverty,  religious bigotry, hatred, broken homes, permissiveness, promiscuity, and war.

This  is  the pathetic situation in which we see  the  professing Christian nations today. This is the result of a false Christianity  taught by counterfeit ministers of Christ and  practiced  by false Christians.

If this statement were not true, the fruits of their  teachings  and practices would be far different; their fruit would  be good and not evil. However, the evidence shows, without a  doubt, the error of their ways:

"But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness,  goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against  such there is no law" (Gal.5:22-23 Para.).

SUMMARY

Yes, true Christians can be identified and separated from  those who  are  not true Christians. Those who truly follow God the  Father  and  Jesus Christ  will  live their lives in accordance  with  what is written in the word of God.

By B. L. Cocherell, file b5w76