The Christian message is the profoundest truth about man, his earth, the universe, and God. A test of the message is if it is acceptable by the world and applauded by it, then we should question whether this is truly the Christian message.
The Christian message cannot be a worldly message. It cannot be a call to respectability. It cannot be a call to a better moral life, to goodness. It cannot be a call to a religion of ceremonies and processions. It is not applied psychology or sociology
The Christian message is the power of God at work changing lives. The Christian message is not the coin of the world's thinking, rather it is an offense to a worldly mind set.
The Marks of Authentic Christianity are supernatural.
God's power supernaturally changing lives, in fact giving us a new life, and making us new creations. Selwyn Hughes says that there are 6 things that natural to a new Christian. They are;
From the story in acts we see God's power supernaturally changing individual lives. We see Peter changed, he is given the courage to take a stand for the truth before the worlds wisdom, in fact the very men who only a month or two early had sentenced Christ.
We see the lame man changed, he was supernaturally enabled to walk, jump and praise God. This supernatural power is the person of the Holy Spirit. Jesus said when speaking to the Pharisees, who were challenging the source of his power (Mat 12:28) "But if I drive out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you."
God wants to supernaturally deal with you and me as an individual. Giving us new life through adoption/re-birth. Changing us by the Holy Spirit, renewing our minds. Changing us from with in to be more like Jesus.
Let us consider the following verses;
John 14:11 - 17 Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves. I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it. "If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counsellor to be with you forever--the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.
John 14:26 But the Counsellor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.
Romans 15:18 - 19 I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me in leading the Gentiles to obey God by what I have said and done--by the power of signs and miracles, through the power of the Spirit.
God, the Holy Spirit is the powerful person who brings that supernatural dimension that marks Christianity out as different, holy. He is the person, the spirit of truth that authenticates our Christian lifestyle and experience.
THE DISTINGUISHING MARKS OF THE SPIRIT OF GOD.
As we have seen the Holy Spirit is that person of the Godhead that enables the power of God to be seen. He is the one who convicts people of their sin and continues changing their life by a sanctifying process.
Demons were cast out, signs and miracles done through the power of the spirit. All Christians want the work of the Holy Spirit, not only to continue but to increase. Yet, no one wants to be deceived or miss led, so how do we test the Spirits. Lets look at the following scriptures;
1 John 4:1 Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.
1 John 4:2 This is how you can recognise the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God,
1 John 4:3 but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.
1 John 4:4 You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.
1 John 4:5 They are from the world and therefore speak from the view point of the world, and the world listens to them.
1 John 4:6 We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognise the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood.
1 John 4:7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.
1 John 4:8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.
1 John 4:9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.
1 John 4:10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.
1 John 4:11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
1 John 4:12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
1 John 4:13 We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit.
1 John 4:14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Saviour of the world.
1 John 4:15 If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God.
1 John 4:16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.
1 John 4:17 In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him.
1 John 4:18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
1 John 4:19 We love because he first loved us.
1 John 4:20 If anyone says, "I love God," yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.
1 John 4:21 And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.
If we are to trust scripture we have to remove ourselves from the our feelings and presumptions, and then look at things with new eyes. Like Jonathan Edwards it may be wise to look at some things that made people think that a phenomenon was not of God, sometimes called negative signs.
These classic arguments are still used today, as proof that a movement is not of God and is therefore counterfeit.