1. Illinois
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    20 Mar '07 14:251 edit
    Don't let hypocritical Christians ruin your life...

    It's not 'follow my religion' or you'll suffer eternal torment; it's 'repent and believe in Jesus' or you'll suffer eternal torment. The point you're missing, that's causing your hostility, is that Christ's way of salvation is not man-made. Faith is produced and upheld by the power of God.

    After Christianity became powerful (after followers of Christ ceased being persecuted for their faith), false religious types began to cling to the faith, having a pretend faith for worldly gain, and causing all kinds of p.r. problems for Christ down through the centuries; which no one is more angry about than God, I'm sure. These hypocritical folks obscure true faith, even make true faith obsolete in their congregations; they're easy to spot, and easy to hate. Everybody knows who they are, but they seem to be untouchable.

    But I tell you what, if you think you hate these people now, you'll hate them infinitely worse when you find out they kept you from discovering Christ for yourself, a true faith rooted in the power of God and not in religion or religious pride.

    That's the rationale I used seven years ago to take a closer look at what the bible said for myself. I used to be a rabid atheist and I hated pompous Christians so much that I was determined, if Christ was indeed real, that they would not keep me from knowing Him. I approached the word sincerely and discovered the reality of Christ's kingdom, repented, became born again and received the empowerment of the Holy Spirit. It was difficult to forfeit my pride, but it was worth it to find the Truth.

    As a follower of Christ now, the Christians I used to hate while I was an atheist really are no less reprehensible. Actually, more so now that I know the Truth which they defame for their greed, which also causes the defamation of me and others like me who love the Truth. The point is, don't let hypocrites keep you out of contact with the Truth, which is Jesus Christ Himself, the Lord.
  2. Joined
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    21 Mar '07 01:43
    Originally posted by epiphinehas
    [b]Don't let hypocritical Christians ruin your life...

    It's not 'follow my religion' or you'll suffer eternal torment; it's 'repent and believe in Jesus' or you'll suffer eternal torment. The point you're missing, that's causing your hostility, is that Christ's way of salvation is not man-made. Faith is produced and upheld by the power of God.

    ...[text shortened]... ep you out of contact with the Truth, which is Jesus Christ Himself, the Lord.[/b]
    Did you know that more Christians have been persecuted and killed for their faith in the last century than in the previous 19 centuries combined?
  3. Illinois
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    21 Mar '07 07:49
    Originally posted by josephw
    Did you know that more Christians have been persecuted and killed for their faith in the last century than in the previous 19 centuries combined?
    I did not know that. Of course, the world population has boomed, hasn't it. We're getting more of everything nowadays. I wonder sometimes if my faith is such that I would die for Jesus like He died for me. I can only trust that the Holy Spirit would strengthen me when that time comes. Bless their souls in heaven. 🙂
  4. Melbourne, Australia
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    21 Mar '07 08:23
    Originally posted by epiphinehas
    [b]Don't let hypocritical Christians ruin your life...

    It's not 'follow my religion' or you'll suffer eternal torment; it's 'repent and believe in Jesus' or you'll suffer eternal torment. The point you're missing, that's causing your hostility, is that Christ's way of salvation is not man-made. Faith is produced and upheld by the power of God.

    ...[text shortened]... ep you out of contact with the Truth, which is Jesus Christ Himself, the Lord.[/b]
    I find it hard to believe that anyone could be a true atheist and turn to religion, but I'm sure you know yourself better than I do.
    What is it that convinced you?
    I'm truly interested in your thoughts here.
  5. the highway to hell
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    21 Mar '07 09:10
    Originally posted by epiphinehas
    [b]Don't let hypocritical Christians ruin your life...

    It's not 'follow my religion' or you'll suffer eternal torment; it's 'repent and believe in Jesus' or you'll suffer eternal torment. The point you're missing, that's causing your hostility, is that Christ's way of salvation is not man-made. Faith is produced and upheld by the power of God.

    ...[text shortened]... ep you out of contact with the Truth, which is Jesus Christ Himself, the Lord.[/b]
    its not just hypocritical christians you need to worry about, its all the so called religous hypocrites all over the planet, pretending to be so holy. if i believed in god i would take it very seriously.
  6. Illinois
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    21 Mar '07 20:03
    Originally posted by amannion
    I find it hard to believe that anyone could be a true atheist and turn to religion, but I'm sure you know yourself better than I do.
    What is it that convinced you?
    I'm truly interested in your thoughts here.
    Check out the thread 'Why does Jesus p*** people off?' I described how I became a 'theist' there. However, being a 'theist' and a Christian are two different things.

    Read some Thomas Carlyle. He wrote books about his struggle with what he called the 'Everlasting Yea' and the 'Everlasting No' regarding God/No God. As I describe, it was my fascination with Nature and the Unknown which opened my mind to the possibility of a Creator. But that's, of course, a far cry from becoming 'born again'.

    Admitting the possibility of a Creator merely caused me to wonder how it was all accomplished, that is, the creation of all things. I became fascinated with the idea of an 'uncaused causer' who has existed eternally, who never has not existed and never will not exist. That concept blows the mind and I always was drawn to things that blew my mind, like trying to imagine the depth of deep space.

    Before I dabbled in theism, though, I was an atheist through and through. I argued with Christians, read every book of philosophy I could find, ridiculed religion, etc., all because I knew there was no God; especially not a Christian God. I remember a buddy of mine asking me once, "What if Christians are right?" I laughed and said to him (with such assurance), "Don't worry, they're not. It's all a big lie." That friend of mine is still a self-proclaimed 'secular humanist' to this day. Go figure.

    What initially persuaded me that God may possibly exist was the undeniable possibility that I might be wrong in my presumption that God doesn't exist. Just a simple, quiet moment of reflection and humility. I didn't like the idea, but hey, there it was. That and a growing sense of self-preservation. I wanted to know the truth behind things because of an intuition that my survival depended on it in some unforeseen way.

    So it wasn't hard for me to trample upon my old atheist ideals or disappoint my atheist friends, because I could no longer deny that atheism is based upon a presumption, and I'd rather be a seeker than live my life on a presumption. If for nothing else, for self-preservation. I carried a certain fierceness in defense of 'going my own way' and I sure didn't like the idea of my own stubbornness or the opinion of my friends getting in the way. Screw them; even if there wasn't anything to find, I still wanted - demanded - something bigger from life.

    Of course, as I mentioned, that is a far cry from getting 'born again'.

    It wasn't until about five years later that I found the Lord. When friends and family found out I had become a follower of Christ, they were in shock. Nobody saw it coming. Especially not me.

    I wasn't raised in a religious family; my mom didn't foist anything on us. She let us come to our own conclusions about life. We weren't church going, and I spent my Sundays fishing in a creek next to our house. Becoming a Christian I can only explain as God drawing me to Him. I wasn't brainwashed, or forced to accept any scripture, or anything.

    My uncle witnessed to me one day when I was visiting him, and told me about Jesus Christ, and I immediately recognized Christ as the Truth I had been avoiding. It got really ugly after that. I started getting angry, and started yelling at my uncle about what bull**** it all is, and I considered jumping in my car and driving home. I was soooo angry for some reason, but inside I already suspected that Christ was the Truth.

    It was a contest between my righteous indignation and the act of volitional submission to Jesus Christ. I inwardly perceived that the choice was free, and mine. I could accept Christ's invitation or reject it. Everything in me wanted to reject it, but I could catch glimpses of myself giving in, too. I stayed in that horrible state for a long time. And once I decided to give in, I found that I couldn't. I couldn't even spit the words out! I tried and failed at least five times.

    Keep in mind, I could've walked away at any time. But this was real. God was really there contending with me. Finally I did repent and asked the Lord to come into my life (thank God). A great peace descended over me, and I was filled with courage. It was like waking up. (I didn't know it then, but the Lord had instantly resurrected my spirit with Christ, and from that moment forward I was a 'new creation'.)

    "I tell you the truth, those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life" (John 5:24, italics mine).

    So that's that. Hope that answers your question thoroughly enough.

    Here's a post I recently wrote about Christ that might be helpful for you:

    Imagine some indescript man, in all seriousness and humility, talking with you plainly about the future as if he'd been there. He's jovial, intelligent, somber, insightful, with an unsettling, piercing gaze, and giving off this great vibe that he somehow knows what you're all about but still digs you anyway. Some way or another it comes up in the course of your conversation where he says straight to your face, "(blank), I am the way, the truth and the life, and no one gets access to God except through me. No one. I am God's only begotten Son, equal with God in every way, and you will see me coming on the clouds of heaven with great power and glory. If you believe in God, believe in me. I have overcome sin, death and the entire world. Those who believe in me, out of their bowels will pour living water day and night. Believe in me and you will not die, you will live forever in my father's kingdom."

    Yikes. Most people would immediately assume this guy has to be nuts. Wouldn't you? But... then the next moment he reaches over and touches your palsied arm and it is instantly restored. Hmmm... I wonder what happens now? No one expected that would happen. Nevertheless, these are the words and deeds that rocked the history and posterity of planet earth. God walked among us. Did he? Did he really? It sounds too good to be true, and no one wants to be disappointed like that.

    'Theism' has to do with some invisible 'God Blob' conglomeration of infinite attributes floating in some metaphysical and untouchable realm. Christianity is not theism. Christianity is precisely the Hebrew translation of Jesus's name: 'God with us'. Our servant and our Lord all in one.
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    21 Mar '07 20:27
    Shouldn't you have an altar call after the sermon?
  8. Subscriberno1marauder
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    21 Mar '07 20:43
    Originally posted by josephw
    Did you know that more Christians have been persecuted and killed for their faith in the last century than in the previous 19 centuries combined?
    Provide some actual evidence for this claim. Make sure it relates the killing of said Christians directly to their faith.
  9. Joined
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    21 Mar '07 21:031 edit
    Originally posted by epiphinehas
    Check out the thread 'Why does Jesus p*** people off?' I described how I became a 'theist' there. However, being a 'theist' and a Christian are two different things.

    Read some Thomas Carlyle. He wrote books about his struggle with what he called the 'Everlasting Yea' and the 'Everlasting No' regarding God/No God. As I describe, it was my fascinati ervant and our Lord all in one.
    Good luck to you. It's nice to hear a religious person telling their story in plain English rather than spouting commands in wierd and scary "bible talk".

    I wish I had faith in a god because I think it would make my life easier, more meaningful and richer, but I can't take a leap of faith because this goes against my logic. It's just not in my nature to "believe" in something that I have no proof of. I could only devote my life to God if I was 100% sure of his existance. I'm not even 50% sure.

    Good luck to you though. I suppose in many ways you are already in heaven. At least that's how I interptreted your quote:

    "I tell you the truth, those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life"
  10. Joined
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    21 Mar '07 21:251 edit
    Originally posted by epiphinehas
    [b]Don't let hypocritical Christians ruin your life...

    It's not 'follow my religion' or you'll suffer eternal torment; it's 'repent and believe in Jesus' or you'll suffer eternal torment. The point you're missing, that's causing your hostility, is that Christ's way of salvation is not man-made. Faith is produced and upheld by the power of God.

    ep you out of contact with the Truth, which is Jesus Christ Himself, the Lord.[/b]
    Where do you draw the line of hypocrisy for Christians?

    I know many who claim to be believers, yet I know none that truly follow. At least not what I believe to be his most important message:

    "If any will come after Me let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me."

    Perhaps this is at the root of the problem. What does it mean to believe?

    Thoughts?
  11. Illinois
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    22 Mar '07 14:43
    Originally posted by twiceaknight
    Good luck to you. It's nice to hear a religious person telling their story in plain English rather than spouting commands in wierd and scary "bible talk".

    I wish I had faith in a god because I think it would make my life easier, more meaningful and richer, but I can't take a leap of faith because this goes against my logic. It's just not in my nature ...[text shortened]... never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life"
    Man, you are so right - it isn't in our nature to believe in something we have no proof of. I can't say I was 100% sure of Jesus Christ when I received Him, not even 50% sure, and on top of that, Christians and all their happy praise music annoyed the crap out of me. The last thing I wanted was to be associated with them.

    It's still remarkable to me that I ever made that leap. And it is a leap. How the heck can somebody logically accept something as true without proof? The truth is, you can't. Even after growing as a Christian for the last seven years I have to admit that my faith is irrational. Being a believer and follower of Christ hasn't robbed me of my intellect or my self-awareness or my volition, so I'm still aware of the unreasonableness of my faith.

    That being said, however, the faith I have received carries with it a certain assurance which perpetually assuages my doubting mind: that is, a joyful heart and spirit. Allow me to quote the bible for a moment: "I have great boldness and free and fearless confidence and cheerful courage toward you; my pride in you is great. I am filled brimful with the comfort of it; with all our tribulation and in spite of it, I am filled with comfort, I am overflowing with joy" (2 Corinthians 7:4).

    You see, the underlying message of the bible is this (Christ's own words) - "With men this is impossible, but all things are possible with God” (Matthew 19:26), and when men and women devote themselves to God without first receiving the gift of faith, they end up creating a dead, empty, oppressive religion, without joyful assurance, a form of godliness without spirit, built entirely upon good works, as if one could 'buy' their way into heaven. Ugly stuff, that. Do not go that route (I doubt you would). It'd be better for you to not try to have faith at all. Stay with your less than 50% and don't worry yourself. Faith is God's job. "Jesus the author and finisher of our faith" (Hebrews 12:2).

    If God calls you, rest assured you'll feel the tug on your heart. And if He chooses to give you the supernatural gift of faith, rest assured you will receive it. "Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure" (Ephesians 1:4-5).

    Beyond that there's not much else I can say. From my own experience, though, I can offer some advice: 'seek the Lord'. If He does exist, and He's half as gracious as Christians say He is, surely He will help those who sincerely seek Him. Right? "Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him" (Hebrews 11:6). "For in Him we live and move and have our being" (Acts 17:28). My experience has been that God has never failed to meet me half way.

    God bless you.
  12. Illinois
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    22 Mar '07 15:52
    Originally posted by ThinkOfOne
    Where do you draw the line of hypocrisy for Christians?

    I know many who claim to be believers, yet I know none that truly follow. At least not what I believe to be his most important message:

    "If any will come after Me let him [b]deny himself
    , and take up his cross, and follow Me."

    Perhaps this is at the root of the problem. What does it mean to believe?

    Thoughts?[/b]
    The line is drawn between 'natural' and 'supernatural'. Faith in Christ is supernatural. There are many self-proclaimed Christians who have not received the gift of faith, and are consequently living empty religious lives. It's a matter of discernment, who is who:

    "Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves. You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. Can you pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit. So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire. Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions. Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter" (Matthew 7:15-21).

    True disciples of Christ, as you point out, should indeed exemplify what Jesus outlined in Matthew 16:24 - denying oneself, taking up one's cross, and following Him. The problem is, as Christ also points out, "With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible" (Matthew 19:26). That's the underlying message of the bible: with men all God's commands are impossible. "Without faith it is impossible to please him" (Hebrews 11:6). Im-freakin'-possible.

    However, after one receives the gift of faith and is filled with the Holy Spirit of God, every one of God's commands becomes possible. To believe in Christ means to rely on Him in this way, as the supplier of all the power you need to carry out His will (i.e. deny yourself, carry your cross, follow Him, etc.).

    As for those who claim to be Christian, yet have not received the power to actually be a follower of Christ, they do not know the joy of the presence of the Spirit in their lives. As a result, their religiosity is an empty facade. Their faith is really in themselves and not in God, since they believe their good works will save them. These people cannot help but become hypocritical, because the good works they perform puff up their spiritual pride while their lives are still full of sin. Such hypocrites have zero love for others, zero love for themselves, and zero love for God, yet they blabber all day long about Jesus and God and sin and repentance - blah, blah, blah...

    So, yeah, you are right about Matthew 16:24, which you quoted; lack of those attributes in someone's faith is a warning sign: "Stay Away". Christ said, "So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples" (John 13:34-35). Where there is Christ's love there can be no hypocrisy. If there is no love for each other, there is no love for God present in a congregation. Period. Stay away from those places.

    "Ye shall know them by their fruits..."
  13. Joined
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    22 Mar '07 21:175 edits
    Originally posted by epiphinehas
    The line is drawn between 'natural' and 'supernatural'. Faith in Christ is supernatural. There are many self-proclaimed Christians who have not received the gift of faith, and are consequently living empty religious lives. It's a matter of discernment, who is who:

    "Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really Stay away from those places.

    "Ye shall know them by their fruits..."
    I guess what I find disconcerting is that, from what I can tell, Christians are no better at following the ways of Jesus than the general population. Maybe you missed it, but I don't think I've ever known any Christians who actually deny themselves - that humbly obey. I don't know any who even come close. From what I can tell, they are all influenced by pride, greed, lust, etc. Are you an exception? Before you answer, read the following quote: "These hypocritical folks obscure true faith, even make true faith obsolete in their congregations; they're easy to spot, and easy to hate." Where do you draw the line of hypocrisy?

    Suppose there's an individual who truly follows the ways of Jesus without professing a belief in him. Would you consider him to be a Christian? Does Jesus ask that he be praised or worshipped or simply to be followed? What defines a true Christian?
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    22 Mar '07 21:19
    why does it have to be hypocritical Christians? there are all kinds of hypocrites. the title should be do not let hypocrites ruin your life not hypocritical Christians
  15. Illinois
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    23 Mar '07 05:13
    Originally posted by ThinkOfOne
    I guess what I find disconcerting is that, from what I can tell, Christians are no better at following the ways of Jesus than the general population. Maybe you missed it, but I don't think I've ever known any Christians who actually deny themselves - that humbly obey. I don't know any who even come close. From what I can tell, they are all influenced by p ...[text shortened]... that he be praised or worshipped or simply to be followed? What defines a true Christian?
    We shouldn't confuse hypocrisy with imperfection.

    Imperfection is a given; all people are imperfect. Hypocrisy, on the other hand, is a false piety arising from empty religious practice: "For you are like whitewashed tombs—beautiful on the outside but filled on the inside with dead people’s bones and all sorts of impurity. Outwardly you look like righteous people, but inwardly your hearts are filled with hypocrisy and lawlessness" (Matt. 23:27).

    No way am I an exception to the rule of imperfection. Like all men and women, Christian or otherwise, I am subject to temptation. The main difference between Christian and non-Christian on the issue of temptation is that a Christian is at war with his own flesh, while the non-Christian is not.

    'Flesh' in the Christian sense denotes everything under the metaphysical umbrella of mind, emotions and body. The born-again person is resurrected in the spirit, indwelt by the Spirit of God, and has begun a life-long battle with the flesh. Simply speaking, God's will vs. self-will. Whereas the non-Christian is ruled by the flesh, that is, by the variegated desires and influences of the mind, emotions and body. The non-Christian's spirit is enslaved to their flesh. While the born-again, knowing the will of God through their resurrected spirit, can now choose God's way instead of the way of their flesh (deny themselves, carry their cross, and follow Him). That is the essential difference between a natural person and a born-again person.

    My question to you would be, what exactly would a Christian denying themselves look like? What does humble obedience look like? Can you see into the hearts of men? Do we witness every act of obedience? Or are some done in secret? Do you know what people sacrifice for the Lord in their heart of hearts, day in and day out? I assure you, those offerings aren't broadcast for everyone to see. Are you expecting conspicuous Mother Theresa's lining every pew? But the Lord sees in secret and rewards in secret.

    Again, hypocrisy is not the same as imperfection. The Christian life is a maturation process with a definite goal: becoming as obedient as Jesus. Imperfection is assumed. However, hypocrisy is outer religiousness without inward obedience, where imperfection is not tolerated. One is the way of love, while the other is not. As an example, consider this story told by Christ to his disciples:

    "Two men went to the Temple to pray. One was a Pharisee, and the other was a despised tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed this prayer: ‘I thank you, God, that I am not a sinner like everyone else. For I don’t cheat, I don’t sin, and I don’t commit adultery. I’m certainly not like that tax collector! I fast twice a week, and I give you a tenth of my income.’

    “But the tax collector stood at a distance and dared not even lift his eyes to heaven as he prayed. Instead, he beat his chest in sorrow, saying, ‘O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.’ I tell you, this sinner, not the Pharisee, returned home justified before God. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted" (Luke 1:10-14).

    Where do I draw the line of hypocrisy? People are capable of fabricating faith and can be expert eye-pleasers, so of course it may be difficult at first to spot a disingenuous heart. It's a matter of spiritual discernment. When a person is quickened in their spirit by the Spirit of the Lord, he or she can sense something is amiss. It's an intuition of a constriction, crowding in on one's inner freedom in the Spirit. Other times its pretty easy to notice: attitudes and actions betray the state of a person's soul quickly. I guess there's not really a clear line to draw, because people and circumstances can be so different.

    Definitely, no, I would not consider a person who doesn't confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to be a Christian. Definitely not. If they do not confess that Christ is Lord, then the Spirit is not in them. If the Spirit is not in them, they cannot follow the Lord. No matter how commendable and righteous that person's deeds may be, it is nothing to the Lord. "It is impossible to please God without faith" (Hebrews 11:6).

    During Christ's earthly ministry His main mission was to glorify His Father. I don't know off hand any scripture where Jesus asked His disciples to worship Himself, and I can only think of those where He praised His Father in Heaven. Actually, there is one scripture that comes to mind right now, where Jesus asks His Father to glorify His Son. I can't think of where it is. Jesus didn't seek the glory of men, just His Father. However, as a Christian I do feel a great deal of gratitude for what Christ did for me on the cross. It's the Holy Spirit's job to glorify Christ, and it is the Spirit Who inspires such praise and worship in the believer. This brings up a whole other issue I don't have the time or wherewithal to address right now, being the Triune nature of God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit).

    What defines a true Christian? Born-again in spirit, walking in love, dedicated to spiritual discipline (prayer, fasting, meditation, solitude, contemplation, generosity, confession, etc.), bearing fruit (joy, peace, long-suffering, loving-kindness, etc.), and glorifying God.

    That's all for now, I'm pooped. Hope that answers your questions.
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