What is authentic Christianity? Well, you first must define the word, “AUTHENTIC”.
I love the 1829 Webster’s Dictionary’s definition:
a. [Low L. authenticus, from the Greek. from an author or maker; one who does any thing by his own right… In the word before us, the sense is to throw, or to set; hence authentic is set, fixed, made or made certain by the author, by one’s own self.]
Did you catch that? The word “authentic” is described like someone throwing a projectile forward from the Author himself…to project from your very being, from the person itself…It is real…Authentic! I like that. Being an authentic follower of Christ is not something we simply do, it is who we are.
To get a grasp on this let’s take a few moments and look at the Biblical teaching found in 1 John chapter 1. The overarching theme that the author deals extensively with is that you and I need to have a clear understanding of where we stand with God.
No doubt that early Christians battled, just like we still do today, with the occasional sensation of doubt. I believe that is why 1 John was written. As someone once said, “It is possible to be saved and doubt it….to be lost and not know it.” In his book, the Apostle John outlines how we can know that we have eternal life and live in the sweet assurance of God’s amazing grace.
God doesn’t want you to live like a question mark, with your head all bent over…He wants you to be an EXCLAMATION MARK with your head held high declaring the Good News of Jesus and having confidence in your Savior and you can know for sure that your relationship with God is authentic if it is through Christ alone.
Let’s unwrap this together.
First of all, to be an Authentic Christian, we must have an…
- Authentic Encounter with the Living Christ – vs. 1-4
“We proclaim to you the one who existed from the beginning, whom we have heard and seen. We saw him with our own eyes and touched him with our own hands. He is the Word of life. This one who is life itself was revealed to us, and we have seen him. And now we testify and proclaim to you that he is the one who is eternal life. He was with the Father, and then he was revealed to us. We proclaim to you what we ourselves have actually seen and heard so that you may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We are writing these things so that you may fully share our joy.” ~1 John 1: 1-4, NLT
The Apostle John is declaring what brings us into fellowship with God is a personal, real, authentic encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ. Notice that John is not writing of someone else’s experience with Christ. He begins the letter saying, “This is MY EXPERIENCE WITH JESUS!” “I have witnessed Him, I seen Him with my eyes!…handled with my hands…and that which I am preaching to you…is not my theology…it is not my interpretation…it is not something I picked out from a class…This what Jesus taught me and the other Apostles Himself!”
Christ wants you to experience a personal relationship with Him.
Now, when we have an encounter with Christ there will be…
- Evidence that the Relationship is Authentic. – vs. 5-6
” This is the message we heard from Jesus and now declare to you: God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all. So we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness; we are not practicing the truth.” ~1 John 1: 5-6, NLT
John tells us that when we have a true, authentic encounter with the Living Christ, we will have…
a) A Changed Life
Here is the deal, NO ONE WHO EVER CAME INTO CONTACT WITH JESUS EVER LEFT THE SAME! Study the Bible, read history. If anyone has a true encounter with Jesus, they are CHANGED! John is dealing with us INDIVIDUALLY.
Sin is offensive toward God. Sin is missing the mark of holiness, of the righteousness that God has established. He teaches us what is right and wrong in His Word the Bible, He also has written right and wrong on our soul… we all have a conscious. Think about it. You never discipline a child because they are too good and do things proper…discipline comes to conform bad behavior to something good. right?
We sin when we do things we know are wrong, whether it is disobeying those in authority, laws of the land, parents, shall I continue? Most importantly, disobeying God. We also sin when we don’t do what we know we should do. Turning away compassion toward someone with a real need, gossiping, being despiteful, or hurtful toward someone else, ….you guessed it….sin.
If you take the 10 commandments and divide them, you can categorize them into two columns…those which are offensive toward God and those offensive toward your fellow man.
BY the time Jesus came to the earth, the religious leaders of the day took the 10 Commandments and made over 613 commandments. Total Confusion. Following God should not be complicated!!!
One day a Religious leader asked Jesus, “Which is the greatest of the Commandments. Jesus said, “Love the LORD your God with all you heart”…”and the Second is like it, Love your Neighbor as yourself.” Then He said that upon those two commandments hang all the other ones. (Matthew 22: 37-39, NKJV).
When we have an Authentic Encounter with Jesus Christ, it changes us, and though we are not perfect, one of the evidences is that we ….
b) No Longer make a habit of Sinning
” But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin. If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts.” ~1 John 1: 7-10, NLT
Then in chapter 3: 5-10 he writes:
“And you know that Jesus came to take away our sins, and there is no sin in him. 6 Anyone who continues to live in him will not sin. But anyone who keeps on sinning does not know him or understand who he is. Dear children, don’t let anyone deceive you about this: When people do what is right, it shows that they are righteous, even as Christ is righteous. But when people keep on sinning, it shows that they belong to the devil, who has been sinning since the beginning. But the Son of God came to destroy the works of the devil. Those who have been born into God’s family do not make a practice of sinning, because God’s life[a] is in them. So they can’t keep on sinning, because they are children of God. So now we can tell who are children of God and who are children of the devil. Anyone who does not live righteously and does not love other believers does not belong to God.” (NLT)
Now John is not saying that if you are truly saved you will never sin, to do that would be to contradict himself, John is referring to practicing sin. If you have an authentic relationship with Christ you will not make a habit of sinning, you won’t practice sin.
One of the greatest gifts God has given to those who are authentic is…
One year I was leading a week-long church camp for boys. I came into the dormitory and found that four of the boys had sneaked in pictures from an adult magazine. They had stuffed the pictures above the ceiling tile over the top bunk. I took the boys and sat them on the floor in a circle around me. The Holy Spirit impressed something on my heart. I looked into their eyes and explained why it was wrong for them to view pornography, how Satan would use that to degrade women and cause their hearts to be filled with lust. Finally I said, “I believe there was a tear on the cheek of Jesus as He watched you glaring at those photos. He loves you and wants better for you.” All of a sudden I heard a sniffle. I looked over and tears were streaming down one of the boys faces and he cried out, “I don’t want to make Jesus cry.”
Conviction may not be pleasant in the moment, but it proves to be a beautiful gift from God. It will soften our heart and keep us humble.
One of the greatest assurances that our faith is real is conviction over our sin.
“He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.” ~1 John 5: 12-13 NKJV