Hungry Hearts

A Bible Study of Men who Hunger for the Lord

​A bi-monthly group led by Gary Ott diving verse-by-verse into the Scripture. The Hungry Hearts digest God's truths, discuss the abundant Life found in the person of Christ, and reflect on the transformation of living by grace through faith. 

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Take The Test:  What’s A Christian?

Born in America?  Doesn’t that make you one?

Well, you say, “I’m not a Muslim, a Buddhist or a Hindu and I do believe in God, so I’m not an atheist; therefore, I guess you could call me a Christian.”

More to the point, a Christian is someone who holds to a set of moral and ethical principles in line with the teachings of Jesus, right? 

In the public debate, Christians are the ones that are intolerant, judgmental and critical of people, for example, who engage in homosexuality or think abortion is a woman’s right.

“A practicing Catholic” is surely a Christian, right?

“Someone that goes to church and gets christened or baptized, like a Presbyterian, Methodist or Baptist has gotta be a Christian!”

No, a Christian is someone who believes in Jesus and His teachings and who backs up those beliefs with a lifestyle that is consistent with them in terms of moral behavior and a Biblical worldview. 

Close, but no cigar! 

Who says?

A group of people in the first century gathered together every Sunday, broke bread together, celebrating the Lord’s Supper, singing worship songs, listening to sermons and reading the Bible, all adhering to a similar lifestyle and worldview.  Yet, when persecution came upon this group and their lives were at stake, certain ones separated themselves from the group and didn’t show up on Sunday’s anymore.

“They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us.”(1 John2:19)

There was no way to tell, looking at their lifestyle or listening to their worldview, who were the real Christians and who were the “antichrists”. 

They all claimed to believe and call themselves Christians.

Then, the Apostle John who wrote the quote above, states clearly what the one distinguishing characteristic was between the false article, “the antichrists” and the “real McCoy”, the true Christian:

“But you (the real McCoy) have an anointing from the Holy One, and you all know”(1 John 2:20).

Know what?  The King James Version says “all things” and the New International says “the truth” (borrowed from John 14 where Jesus said that when the Holy Spirit comes “you will know all things” and “He will guide you into all truth”) but in the original Greek, the word “things”, as well as the word “truth”, are not in the text.  These translations even acknowledge this fact by putting those words in Italics. 

There is no direct object mentioned, so the New American Standard stays closest to the original Greek by not supplying a direct object, though the sentence cries out for one.

What’s the impact of all this? 

John was saying if you are a real Christian that the Holy Spirit has come upon you, “anointed” you, and you have a mystical, inner “knowing” that you have His presence inside you. 

In other words, you will have an inner witness to your human spirit that Jesus Christ indwells you through the presence of the Holy Spirit if you are a true Christian.

Are you ready to take the test?

Here it is in the words of Holy Scripture:

“Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves!

Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you—unless indeed you fail the test? (2 Cor.13:5)

Yes, if you are a true Christian, “The Spirit Himself testifies with your spirit that you are a child of God” Romans 8:16).

The mark of a true Christian is true mysticism! 

What defines what a Christian really is and passes God’s test is an inner, mystical, reality, “Christ in you”, having a sense of His Presence, where you can honestly sing:

“You ask me how I know he lives; He lives within my heart!”

Jesus compared the Kingdom of God to a field where a farmer planted wheat and an enemy planted tares that look exactly like wheat.  The only difference is the wheat stalk has a real kernel of wheat buried inside the outer tassel, the tare looks identical, but there’s no kernel of wheat.  You can’t uproot the tares or you will destroy the wheat. 

But, at harvest, you thresh the wheat by throwing it up in the air over and over with a winnowing fork on a breezy day.  The weightier wheat falls straight back to the ground, the lighter tares are blown away in the wind.  The wheat is brought into the barn; the pile of tares is burned up.

Sounds a lot like the Apostle John saying Christians and non-Christians were meeting together, nobody able to tell the difference, until they left when their lives were at stake because of persecution, “blew away”, as it were.

The real Christians stayed, “stood their ground”, as it were, identifying themselves with the Person of Jesus Christ.   They could not deny Him, or even separate themselves from Him, who, in fact, was inside them and had become one with them. 

Yes, how could you deny someone who has become your very Life?

Believe me, if you’re the “real McCoy”, in the day of persecution, when you’re pressured to deny Him, you will have the very power of God in you to identify yourself with Him, confidently and boldly, because you know Him as your very Life!

Peter denied Jesus when he knew Him from the outside, as a follower, a disciple and a believer, professing,

“You are the Christ, the Son of the living God!” 

But on the Day of Pentecost when he came to know Jesus on the inside he never again denied Jesus no matter the persecution that ultimately caused him to be crucified upside down.

Let us be clear about what makes a person a Christian and, if we are, aware of the “the anointing” that makes us the “real McCoy”, then will be far more effective in leading others to become Christians. 

When experiencing Him, His Presence and His Love, then we won’t find ourselves reasoning with people to adopt our lifestyle or agree with our worldview.  No, out of the overflow of Him, as a “river of living water”, we will spontaneously invite them to experience a personal relationship with the Living Lord Jesus Christ as their Savior, Lord and Life, just like He has us.   

We are His witnesses and should be testifying about a dynamic relationship with a living person, the One who died for their sins and rose again, Jesus Christ, Who we ourselves know personally, intimately and experientially as our very Life!

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy, has caused us to be born again unto a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead!”

(1 Pet 1:3)