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  • Samuel at Gilgal

    This year I will be sharing brief excerpts from the articles, sermons, and books I am currently reading. My posts will not follow a regular schedule but will be published as I find well-written thoughts that should be of interest to maturing Christian readers. Whenever possible, I encourage you to go to the source and read the complete work of the author.

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Are You A Christian?

What is a Christian? When someone tells you that he or she is a Christian, how do you know if they really are? In my youth, if someone (rarely) told me he was a Christian I just thought “OK. So you are superstitious!” I generally did not pick up on them really acting any differently than anyone else. Besides, everyone knows that Christians are hypocrites. So why should I have been looking for them to behave in some particular way? I didn’t know what to look for other than knowing that Christians are supposed to be “good.”

Are you a Christian? What is it that makes you a Christian? Can you explain it to me? Being a Christian doesn’t require great intelligence. Although some of the Christians I have known are some of the most intelligent people I know. When I read about the lives of Christians who lived in earlier centuries, however, I often wonder what happened to the common thread that links us to them? It is like trying to link the experience of the presence of Christ to what often seems to be the pretense of Christ in much of our present religious culture. What is the difference? What makes a real Christian?

Again, in my youth, I thought that becoming a Christian was like joining a club. You make a decision to join the club and then you agreed to abide by club rules. Then, at the age of 31, I discovered this was not the case at all. I discovered instead that the club was really an all-encompassing kingdom which I could not even see except for the Spirit of God. Are you a Christian?

Do you believe in the supernatural? You must first be supernaturally changed. According to Jesus Christ, “unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3) Your life is quite literally invaded by a new kind of life which is in Christ. As Paul says, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20) Are you a Christian?

Do you believe the Bible? A Christian must also believe that the Bible is the authoritative Word of God. If a person does not believe the truth of Scripture, this person cannot define himself as a Christian. The Bible is not simply a source of information; it is a source for transformation. Are you a Christian?

Have you received Jesus Christ as the very center of your life and above all else in your life? Were you once a slave and are now a son? “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17) “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name [Jesus] under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) It truly is as Billy Graham once said: “There is no more urgent and critical question in life than that of your personal relationship with God and your eternal salvation.” Are you a Christian?

Hate Crimes

In Sweden, Pastor Ake Green was sentenced to one month in prison for preaching the biblical view of human sexuality. The Swedish Supreme Court eventually overturned his conviction. In 2003, the Anglican bishop of Chester, England, was brought in by police to investigate him for hate speech after he said that some homosexuals can overcome their “orientation.” Cardinals in Belgium and Spain have been threatened with lawsuits for preaching against sexual immorality. Catholic clergy in Ireland were warned not to distribute the Vatican’s statement against same-sex “marriage” or they could face prosecution under Ireland’s “incitement to hatred” legislation. In April of 2004, Canada passed a new “hate crimes” law that also criminalized “politically incorrect,” speech.

Conservative columnist Mark Steyn has been ensnared by Canada’s politically correct hate crimes laws after a Canadian magazine published an excerpt of his book America Alone in 2006. For essentially writing an op-ed, Steyn stands accused of “subjecting Canadian Muslims to hatred and contempt” and has been ordered to appear before a Canadian Human Rights Commission. Steyn’s case has sparked a public backlash. U.S. ministries are now getting caught up too. Focus on the Family has been editing its broadcasts in order to avoid running afoul of Canada’s hate crimes law.

Liberals, Muslims, and homosexuals in Europe and Canada have used “hate crimes” laws to intimidate and silence their critics. These laws are a threat to freedom of the press and religious liberty. Americans must learn from these experiences and reject the liberal assault on liberty in its varied forms, from “hate crimes” laws to the Fairness Doctrine.

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