Hello everybody and welcome in to episode #267 of the Bible 2021 podcast. We are reading Titus 1 today and our focus is on How Can You Tell If Somebody is a Christian? We are a daily 10 minute podcast, where we will dig in to the truth of the Word of God by reading one Bible chapter a day and discussing it. Welcome to new listeners in Tarlac, Philippines, parts unknown, Bangladesh, Maharashtra, India, Lagos, Nigeria, parts unknown Austria, Luxembourg and Russia, Zurich, Switzerland, Nova Scotia, Canada, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Wichita, Kansas, Hartford, Connecticut, San Luis Obispo, California, Fort Wayne, Indiana, Chattanooga, Tennessee, Jackson, Mississippi, and Hannibal, Missouri. Our goal is to encourage DAILY Bible reading, so you can jump in at any time and join with us. We want to invite as many people as possible to join us in daily Bible reading, so help spread the word and share the podcast! Don’t forget about our web-page, Bible2021.com – contact page, show notes, transcript and more– Click here for our Bible 2021 reading plan\
Many people claim to be followers of Jesus -especially in the United States – and especially in the Bible Belt, where I grew up. Most people there are raised Christians, and therefore most people consider themselves Christians, and self-identify as Christians. In my home state of Alabama, we have a similar dynamic – almost everybody in Alabama either roots for the University of Alabama in football, or Auburn University. In my younger and more obnoxious days, I designed a test, of sorts, to sort out real football fans from those who were simply raised in an Alabama or Auburn household. I would ask them who their quarterback was. If they couldn’t answer that question, then I knew they weren’t a real football fan, but in Alabama, that’s not enough to root out the posers – generally, you have to know the back up running back if you really are a legit fan of your team, and I didn’t consider anybody a real fan, unless they could genuinely name several of their teams players. Yeah, like I said – I was a bit obnoxious about football – most people in Alabama are. We care a LOT about football. There’s isn’t really a test like that for following Jesus, is there? Basically, people can just identify as a Christian, and not have to name the fourth string disciple, or the disciple whom Jesus loved, or the name of Aquila’s wife, or how many people gathered in the upper room in the book of Acts. You can just call yourself a Christian, and that’s why we have situations like politicians claiming to be Christians, and also claiming to have never needed to ask God for forgiveness, or people who abuse their wives claiming to be Christians, or a particularly horrible story I heard last week on a podcast – an unrepentant serial killer singing a few verse of a gospel song before he was put to death. But the thing is, self-identifying as a Christian is as meaningless as self-identifying as Batman or a cube of Jello. Saying you are something does not make you something, a fact that Jesus addresses with particularly stinging clarity in Matthew 7:21-23:
21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in your name, drive out demons in your name, and do many miracles in your name?’ 23 Then I will announce to them, ‘I never knew you. Depart from me, you lawbreakers!’ Matthew 7:21-23
These are people who identify as Christians, and call Jesus “Lord” of their lives, and what does Jesus do? He says that these self-professed Christians are actually lawbreakers, who don’t do God’s will, and that Jesus Himself doesn’t know them. Rather than welcome them into Heaven, Jesus will tell such people to depart – they will be barred from entering eternity with Jesus. This tells us, of course, that it is NOT self-identification as a Christian that makes somebody a Christian. What does? Well, Paul briefly covers this in Titus 1:
to those who are defiled and unbelieving nothing is pure; in fact, both their mind and conscience are defiled. 16 They claim to know God, but they deny him by their works. Titus 1:15-16
He is talking about unbelievers who CLAIM TO KNOW GOD – so they think they believe, but their belief is so misplaced because it is not belief in the real God of Heaven. How can we know such people? According to Jesus, they don’t do the will of God the Father, or, as Paul puts it, these people “claim to know God, but deny Him by THEIR WORKS.” Jesus also says the same thing in a different way in Matthew 7, when He says that false prophets will be known by their fruit, and He also says this in Luke 6:
43 “A good tree doesn’t produce bad fruit; on the other hand, a bad tree doesn’t produce good fruit.44 For each tree is known by its own fruit. Figs aren’t gathered from thornbushes, or grapes picked from a bramble bush. Luke 6:43-44
Fruits, works, doing the will of the Father – these are the SIGNS of salvation – not somebody’s self-identity. And let me be clear – fruit, works, and doing the will of the Father are only that- signs, they are not the METHOD of salvation. One is not saved by doing good works, or doing God’s will, or producing fruit – there is NO fruit that comes from a dead tree, and that is what we were before salvation in Jesus. Salvation is by grace through faith, (NOT WORKS!) and that salvation will always produce fruit, works and following God’s will.
This is elementary stuff in the Word of God, but it is so commonplace to see many people claiming to be Christians and not demonstrating the fruit of being a Christian, that I thought it a good thing to go over this in light of what Paul says to Titus about those who falsely claim to know God, but deny REALLY knowing Him by their works and way of life. Let’s read the whole first chapter.
Bible Memory verses for the month of September: 16 All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, 17 so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. 2nd Timothy 3:16-17
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