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The Difference Between Believers
 and Make-Believers

Pastor Gary Buchman
Emmitsburg Community Bible Church

(3/15) Introduction- We in the United States are so fortunate. We have Bibles. We have Radio, TV, Bible Colleges, Seminaries, Institutes, Churches, and Pastors that faithfully teach Godís Word. We can read the Bible in classical King James style, or in a more contemporary English version, like the ESV, CEV, NIV, TEV, NKJV, NASV, LB, and more. We can individually study Godís Word and see if the preacher is saying what the Bible says. Like the Bereanís in Acts 17:11, " These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so."

But it wasnít always that way. The only copies of the scriptures were either in the synagogues or in the possession of the pastors and elders. Itinerate preachers would often come into town and would be housed by church members. But without Bibles, how could you know if they were really Christ-Followers? The Blessed Lord Jesus and every New Testament writer warns us to beware of false teachers; false prophets who come in sheepís clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves (Matt. 7:15). Satan wants to trip you up with lies and false doctrine. John tells us that there are 4 tests to apply in order to tell the believers from the make believers; to know the real deal! Now before we go over these letís look at verse 4: "You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.

Just as God was in Christ, God is you and me by His Holy Spirit. And among the many reasons that He chose to live in us is to enable us to discern truth from error. Letís look at a few verses. John 16:12-15, "However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. 14 He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. 15 All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you." Paul will say this in 1 Cor. 2:9ff. But as it is written: "Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him."

10 But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. 11 For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.

13 These things we also speak, not in words which manís wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 14 But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. 15 But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one. 16 For "who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?" But we have the mind of Christ.

The One who gave us the Word of God resides in all true believers so we can know what His word says and what it means. Because He is in us, not only can we understand deep theological truth, but we can discern truth from error. When you hear error, red flags will go up and you will sense that this is not right even if you cannot immediately go to right verses. Your spirit alarm will say, "Danger Will Robertson, Warning."

I was just a Spec 4 when I arrived in Germany and one day I listened to a chaplain, who was a Major, speak and I said this isnít right. Even though I had not been a Christian very long, what he was saying seemed to contradict what little I knew. After being able to ask the Chaplain a few questions He revealed that He was a Mormon. And he said these words to me. I still remember them. "You sound just like a Baptist Chaplain I know. He is so sure of going to heaven. I wish I were that sure. I donít want to talk any more with you."

Letís review our tests:

1. The Deity of Jesus test (vv. 2-3). I know of no cult today that believes that Jesus was God in the flesh. That phrase, in the flesh, is important. John introduces both his Gospel and this first letter by stating that God became flesh and dwelt among us and we touched Him. They all make something less of Jesus, such as a created God, a prophet, a teacher, but not the Eternal Creator God who came in a body like ours. The Gnostics of Johnís day, as Wayne told you last week, did not believe that Jesus was God in the flesh.

2. The Word of God test (vv. 5-6). They will change the word of God to fit their theology. That is what Satan did with Eve and that is what he is still doing today. There are several ways that false teachers do this.

a. By lifting verses out of context and then using those verses as proof texts as Wayne demonstrated to you last week. Listen, every word must be understood in light of its sentence. Every Sentence must be understood in light of its paragraph. Every paragraph must be understood in light of its chapter. Every chapter must be understood in light of its book or letter. Every book or letter must be understood in light of the entire Bible. The only book where you might be able to lift a verse out of its context is the book of Proverbs and no other.

b. By saying that the Bible doesnít mean what it says. Now I know that there are times when the plain sense makes no sense and therefore, is a word picture. Satan is neither a lion, a snake, nor a dragon, but his character is like them. Jesus was not asking for a clean cup in the Garden of Gethsemane. He was speaking of Godís judgment for sin. But here is a rule we learned in Bible College. "When the plain sense makes good sense, seek no other sense." If word pictures are being used. There is usually somewhere in the Bible that explains the picture. But false teachers will say that the Bible means something it doesnít say or that it doesnít mean what it says. There are cults that donít want to believe in hell and so they say it is the grave. There are some who donít want to believe anyone can go to hell and so they say that being good is good enough to go to heaven. There are some who donít want to believe in demons and so they say it just a picture of mental illness. There are some who donít want to believe in the total depravity of man and so they say that man is basically good. There are some who want to believe that Godís main concern is not the salvation and restoration of the world but the personal happiness and health and wealth of people. And those who are not Christ-Followers will eat this stuff up because this is what they want to hear (v. 5-6). We know they are real deal if they embrace the truth when we reveal it to them. Our Lord said to Pilate, "You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice."

c. By saying that the Bible is not complete without their writings or book or that the Lord speaks to them outside of the Bible. That is a big red flag. Listen to me. Anytime someone says to you, "God told me," or "God spoke to me," there had better contextual scripture support. Period. Exclamation point! The Holy Spirit will most definitely speak to you but always, always, from His Word. When Debbie said to me in October or November of 1995 that God spoke to her and that we were to adopt a child, James 1:27, and Psalm 68:5 were right there. Sometimes that voice that you hear in your head comes from another source.

3. There is the Character of Christ test. It is possible for a person to agree that Jesus came in the flesh and to say that Jesus is Lord. But part of the confession is the desire to become like Jesus and to obey Jesusís commands no matter what. My brothers and sisters, I believe this is a big problem in the church today. A lot of people claim to be Christ-Followers because they prayed a prayer and were baptized but their character and their conduct is not being conformed into the image of Jesus. This is a hard pill to swallow, but the truth is that a fruit of following Jesus is becoming like Jesus. If that is not happening, that person is not a Christ-Follower. If there is not humble service, a generous spirit, a forgiving, peace-making spirit, that person is a make believer. If money, pride, and power seem to be the drive, that person is a make believer.

4. There is the Compassion of Christ test Here we will camp for the rest of the morning and next week. We have repeatedly stated that there are three great New Testament commands.

a. Love God with all you heart, mind, soul, and strength

b. Love others like Christ, loves you

c. Love the world that Jesus died to redeem.

The world has never been the same since Jesus walked this earth. He showed us what Love is. Prior to Jesus, the world was pretty much in a class system and you lived and loved within your class system. The world was largely, us against them. And while we donít have a class system in the USA, we live as if we were in one. For make believers it still is. Who are the "Them," to you? Republicanís, Democratís, Steeler or Yankee fans, Blacks, Hispanics, inner city people, Russianís, Chinese, North Koreans, Muslims, Hatfieldís, McCoyís, the wealthy, the poor, addicts, inmates, homosexuals, HIV positive people, Catholics, Episcopalianís, Mormons, JWís, or some other?

Jesus came to demonstrate that Godís grace was for everyone. I can only imagine what the Apostles must have felt when Jesus said, "Guys, we have to go through Samaria," in John 4, and then He had the audacity to speak to a woman, a Samaritan woman. Jews hated Samaritans. But Jesus loved Samaritans. One woman then turned a whole town on to Jesus. One of Jesusí most famous stories was about a compassionate Samaritan. No one would ever use a Samaritan as a hero of a story. That would be like using a Muslim as a hero of our stories in Church.

And then there was the time when Jesus said, "Letís go to the other side," in Mark 4:35. The other side was the east side of the Sea of Galilee. Jews did not go to the other side. Canaanites lived on the other side. Decapolis was a place of pagans, and Gentiles. Pigs were sacred on the other side. There was a legion of Roman soldiers on the other side. Their symbol was a Boars head. But Jesus went to the other side. There He met a Demon possessed man with a legion of demons in him. Jesus cast them out and you know they wanted to go in the pigs. Jesus said okay and over the cliff they went. The people demanded Jesus to leave. So He did, but he left the man there to tell his story. When Jesus went back a year later, crowds of people came to Him for healing and He feed over 4000 of them. Because He went to the other side for a few moments and touched one man. Because Jesus loves pagans and Gentiles.

And then there was the time in Matthew 15, when Jesus went north and out of country to the area of Tyre and Sidon and ministered to a Syro-Phoenician or Greek woman and commended her faith because Jesus loves Greeks.

In Matthew 8, Jesus healed a Centurionís servant. He was a Roman soldier. An occupying army. I bet Simon the Zealot loved this moment (Not). Hated by the Jews but not by Jesus. Jesus loved the Romans. He loved His enemies. He healed the Romanís servant.

In John 5 there was a Nobleman whose Son was sick. The Nobleman was probably from Herodís court. The Jews hated Herod. But Jesus loved Herodís court.

Throughout the Four Gospels, we have Jesus touching Lepers. People were afraid of Lepers. They were contagious, they had cooties. You ran from Lepers. But not Jesus. Jesus loved Lepers.

Tax collectors were the lowest form of human life that a Jew could imagine, next to a Samaritan. Jews did not eat with or talk to tax collectors. But Jesus loved tax collectors, and harlots, and addicts, and even called a Tax collector to be an Apostle and write a Gospel for the Bible (Matt. 9).

When anyone says that the gospel is exclusive or that He or she is not willing to love his enemies, or cross over to the other side to show grace, that person is not a believer, he or she is a make believer. Jesus is a Savior for the world. And if He lives in You, You will love the, "Them," in your life.

It didnít matter who the person was or is. The seed of Abraham came to bless the whole world. Thatís love. He came to give life to the world; to enemies, strangers, sin slaves, people of color, and dead people. Verse 11 is very clear. If Jesus would do that for us, we ought, (pause), we have seen this word before, in 2:6, and 3:16. It means that we have an obligation. We are obligated to love others.

We are obligated to be moved by the needs of others and to seek their highest good. We canít turn a blind eye. We canít make excuses

Why go to Russia when they were going to bury us? Why got to Mexico? Why go to Haiti where the devil is worshiped? Because there are lost people there, hungry people there, hurting people there. And because Jesus said to go.

But if anyone says he loves God and yet hates people, verse 20 says, He or she is a liar. If any preacher or teacher or professed Christ-Follower talks down about other humans who are created in Godís image, or speaks of people as unworthy of grace, that person is a make believer, not a believer. He has never comprehended the love of God that would share His grace with sinners like us.

These are the four great tests to know whether someone is a true believer or a make believer.

My concern this morning is there may be make believers among us. You want to receive the grace of God yet you want to withhold it from others because they are from the other side.

You need to repent. You need to get on your face before God and repent and seek His forgiveness. You need to realize that Godís grand purpose for rescuing you and leaving you here is so that you can continue the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. Verse 17b says, "because as He is, so are we in this world." Underline or highlight or star that verse. Jesus wants to touch the world. He wants to touch lives through you. He wants people to know love because you show His compassion.

More about this next week.

Christ Followers care about people-simple as that. Christ-Followers want to seek the best for people, no matter who they are.

Letís pray

Read other thoughtful writings by Pastor Gary Buchman