THE HOLY REMNANT
ABOVE COMMON - BEYOND ORDINARY
Christians are not all alike. Even though everyone gets saved the same way, through faith in Jesus Christ and repentance of sin, there are different levels of maturity and stages of growth. If you are saved, we can never be more saved, or if we're lost, we can never be more lost. Salvation is not by degrees. There's only one class of saved; there are no especially saved and no barely saved. However, following salvation there is the rather lengthy process of transformation, as the Spirit of Christ in us is remaking us into his image.
However, commitment and maturity levels not withstanding, we're all aware that there are true Christians and there are those who are only pretending to be Christians. Sprinkled among the masses of professing believers, there are those who belong wholly - body, soul, and spirit - to Christ, and those who have never belonged, and may never belong to him. Many claiming to be followers of Christ have had no soul cleansing or life changing experience with him.
Of the great numbers of people professing to be believers, only a few are true biblical Christians. One's claim of legiti-
macy must be validated by lifestyle and deeds: For con-
firmation that one is actually following Christ we need only listen to the words he says and see the attitude he projects. Through how he behaves and interacts with others, he will reveal the condition of his heart. We may then compare the fruit he bears to the biblical description of the fruit we're supposed to be bearing as followers of Christ.
Many who call themselves Christians and who assume they have eternal life, living under the solid protection of grace, will be shocked when they discover they have been mistak-en! In the end, it will make no difference what we call our-selves, what will count is what God calls us. God had the first word and he gets the last!
Jesus Christ is heaven's only gate, its only entrance door. If we're going to enter the kingdom of God and enjoy heaven, we must enter while we're alive on this earth. Beyond this life there's no additional opportunities to receive Christ and no entrance into the Presence of God.
Let's look at true Christianity
Christianity is not just a label. When a person habitually practices sin and yet professes to be a Christian, we have reason to dismiss his claim. Christianity is not wearing a cross or crucifix or tee shirts with religious symbols and slogans on them. It is not the superstitious practice of going to confession, praying rote prayers, or attending church on major holy days; it is not ritualistic baptism and confirm-ation and it is not joining a church. Yet, people use these things as the basis for calling themselves Christians when, in fact, they have no idea what a genuine Christian is.
Christianity is intimately personal and life changing. Our relationship with the Lord affects every aspect of our lives because it determines our approach to life; it narrows our focus because we've been set apart from the world unto God. Christianity is Christ - centered living and the continuing desire to become like him in this world ( 1 John 2:6; 4:17 ).
True Christians and so-called Christians are as different as night and day. True Christians live and work in the world but retain their clear distinction from it; they are here, not to be served, but to serve and expend their lives on the noble, eternal purposes and plans of God. True Christianity is not the easy brand cherished by the worldly. The infam-ous easy brand of Christianity is indistinguishable from the world's daily practices.
The scripture clearly defines a genuine Christian. It also ex-
poses the true nature of this world and warns us to avoid using it as a pattern for our own lives. The Bible says that we must guard our faith and integrity in order to remain secure in our salvation.
Characteristics of a remnant believer
In every funeral I've done, I can report that none of the deceased went to hell. Every last one of them went straight to heaven - sins and all! Not really! Regardless of what most want to believe, if a person is not forgiven before he dies he won't be forgiven after he dies. Dying does not change the condition of a soul. Death does not erase sins or bring automatic forgiveness and salvation. In just one breath, a living sinner becomes a dead sinner with nothing shielding him from the finality of God's judgment and wrath.
What does a remnant Christian look like? In some ways he may look ordinary, normal, average, like any other believer. However, his nature and character will have the distinct, in-
delible impression of Christ stamped upon them. His moral stature will bear heavenly markings, his heart will be filled with God's desires, not the petty, profane desires of corrupt human flesh. The good and positive things of God will dominate his conversation; his actions will convey spiritual expediency because he is about his Father's business. He will be gentle in nature, patient, and loving, caring about the feelings and needs of others.
Accepting the challenge of being recreated in the image of Christ excites the remnant. Embarking upon the great ad-
venture of transformation, the actual work of growing into a worthy citizen of the kingdom of God is something he looks forward to. We belong to the family of God; we are his heirs, sealed with the promised Holy Spirit! We are there-fore destined to share in the honor and glory due Christ be-cause we have been made one with him.
Obstacles thrown in our path by temptation can be over-come; the lure of the world and the lust of the flesh are not enough to stop us from winning the victory. If God is free to lead us where he wants us to go, we will arrive safely in the glorious future he has planned for us.