How to Strengthen your Faith in 2020 and Beyond

Do you want to strengthen your faith and have an impact on the world? We know as Christians, that Jesus commanded us to go out into the world and make disciples, but if we are being honest, most Christians do a poor job of Discipleship. Why? Because we lack confidence in the fundamental tenants of the Christian faith. Rest assured knowing that you are not alone in feeling like a lackluster Christian. In this post, I am going to share How to Strengthen your Faith in 2020 and Beyond, which will help you clarify aspects of the faith often misunderstood. 

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What is a Christian?

A simple Google search will reveal that there is not a universal definition of “Christian.” In most instances, the term is defined by people’s perspectives and experiences.

In the Bible, the term Christian is associated with those whose behavior, activity, and speech that was like Jesus Christ. The word Christian means, “follower of Christ” or “belonging to the party of Christ.” 

Related Post: Secrets to True Salvation, Revealed

Are there different types of Christians?

Even in the church, there is no surefire way to be sure that two people who confess to be “Christians” mean the same thing that term the same way.

In the New Testament, the word “Christians” appears only 3 times (Acts 11:26; Acts 26:28; 1 Peter 4:16), “believers” 20 times, but the word “disciples” appears 282. Today, the word “Christian” is preferred because, for many, it does not carry the implications of having to follow, learn and obey the teachings of Christ-like the word “Disciple” implies.

A true Christian is a person who has accepted God’s gift of salvation and put their faith in Jesus Christ, which includes accepting Jesus’ death on the cross as payment for our sins and His resurrection as proof of His power over death (Titus 3:3-6; Ephesians 2:8-9)

While faith manifests itself in our lives in diverse ways and has a different impact on each of us, depending on each of our experiences, behaviors, proclivities, etc., there are some basic truths that apply universally to all of those who call themselves Christians—as defined above: the word Christian means, “follower of Christ” or “belonging to the party of Christ.”

Now that we have answered the question, “What is a Christian,” each of us has the personal responsibility to ask, “What does this mean to me?

How to Grow in your Faith.

1. Christians must distinguish between faith and tradition/custom

17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. 19 Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:17-20)

Most people’s view of Christians is shaped by what they observe and/or experience based on their own notion of what they believe a Christian should be.

This reality was sufficiently recognized by Jesus’ disciples, so that when Christ tells them that they should not be divorcing, they burst out with, “if such is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry.” Matthew 19:10. But, you would never know, from the way most Christians teach, that Jesus Christ sort of agrees with them. In today’s vernacular, Christ says, “Yes, you’d be right if you were able to control yourself, but unfortunately almost all of you are too horny to do so, so you will have to marry to stay out of sin!"

Now it might be possible to squirm around and interpret things differently, but then the Apostle Paul goes and says almost the same thing in 1 Corinthians 7! Christians ignore the fact that Christ and Paul BOTH teach that many men and women are too horny (or lonely, or whatever) to live chastely (without sexual sin) unless they marry. And ignore the fact that BOTH Christ and Paul teach that — for Christians — the PRIMARY purpose of marriage is to avoid sin, that it’s a DIFFICULT solution to a hard problem, and that for the TINY minority of men or women able to live chastely without marriage, that’s the preferable option!

Not to say that it is a sin to follow certain traditions, but like the Pharisees, when we evaluate faith based on how well or often people obey non-biblical traditions/customs we lose sight of Jesus.

This often manifests when youth leave their church home and discover that the doctrine, they thought were the “way, truth and light” or nothing more than just mere traditions.

Christians are not bound by tradition; we are bound by obedience to God. We must challenge ourselves daily to determine if what we “believe” is based on the Bible or if it is rooted in something else. 

2. Christians do not overstate the earthly benefits of Christianity while understating the cost

You will be hated by all because of My name, but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved. Matthew 10:22

What are the benefits of being a Christian?

Because of the rebellion of Adam and Eve against God, the physical world itself was subject to corruption and decay (Rom. 8:18–22). As a result, things like disease and natural disasters happen to everyone.

It is true that God, in His incredible mercy, undoubtedly does protect us from many of these consequences of the Fall in our world. 

However, he does not ever promise in his Word that he will protect us from physical injury or illness, and he allows all of us to die. This kind of suffering is a normal part of normal life in a fallen world.

For Christians, the Bible promises us persecution and suffering for our faith.

Worldly Persecution - the world is in rebellion against God. It hates God, and when he came as a man in the person of Jesus Christ, the world responded by murdering him. Jesus promised us that the world would treat us the way it treated him (John 15:20)

The first followers of Jesus consistently experienced suffering for the sake of Jesus, in Jerusalem (Acts 8:1), Galatia (Gal. 3:4), Philippi (Phil. 1:29), Thessalonica (1 Thess. 2:14), and Asia Minor (1 Peter 4:12), along with the recipients of the letter to the Hebrews (Heb. 10:32). Paul went through horrible suffering (2 Cor. 11:23–29), as did the other apostles (Acts 5–8).

There is a tendency to try and sell Christianity to the world in a way that makes it more appealing, but these pitches often stray from God’s word.

Many Christians imply, or even teach, that people should become Christians because doing so will make their lives before death better. While this might be occasionally true, Jesus taught that becoming a follower would make life before death worse and life after death better.

Many people accept Jesus under the false pretense that He is going to make their Earthly lives better and subsequently abandon Him when things do not improve.

As followers of Jesus, we do not rejoice in suffering because we enjoy pain, but because Jesus is so worthy in our eyes and hearts that we delight in being identified with him. 

All suffering is temporary. It is not worth comparing with the glory that awaits us (2 Corinthians 4:16). 

3. Christians do not Compromise with Culture

14 I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. 15 My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. 17 Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world.” (John 17:14-18)

Christian must stand firm on God’s word and be willing to let His word dictate our stances on things in the world as well as our practices.

Why do Christians compromise?

Indulge in our own desires - We have sinful desires and sometimes we give in to them. Let us remember – We never have to give in to temptation. God will always provide a way out if we will take it (1 Corinthians 10:13)

Ignorant of God’s Word - Sometimes believers live like the world in one or more areas simply because they do not know God’s standard. Yet God calls us to “not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance,” but to be holy in all we do (1 Peter 1:13-15)”. Thankfully, we can learn since we have full access to His Word!

Fear of being “labeled” - Sometimes believers worry more about what the world will think of us than what God will think of us. We do not want to be considered a “bigot” or “self-righteous.” We do not want to be different or stand out in a crowd. So, we compromise to fit in.

Christians are neither Democratic nor Republican.

The United States is not a Christian nation.

Adultery, Homosexuality, Fornication, Lying, Stealing, etc. are sins.

Misguided Attempt to be Relevant - dress and speak in questionable ways to connect with the culture. If our speech or dress or behavior shocks or offends even a handful of Christians in the room, we should reconsider. 

Jesus and His message of salvation are always relevant. We do not have to compromise to share them.

4. Christians are Transparent and Expose Their Failing

2 We have renounced the shameful things that one hides; we refuse to practice cunning or to falsify God’s word; but by the open statement of the truth we commend ourselves to the conscience of everyone in the sight of God. (2 Corinthians 4:2)

Christians are required to be self-reflective and repentant, which requires the daily assessment of our faults.

Often when we fail to practice daily self-reflection, we lose our focus and humility becomes a struggle.

This leads us to overlook our failings consciously or subconsciously and, instead of striving to be like Jesus, become “okay” with our issues and become prideful in our perceived obedience to God.
What is transparency?

Transparency occurs when a person is willing to disclose setbacks as well as victories and does not mask what is going on inside. With discretion, his prayer requests are specific and honest. Seeking support and counsel by reaching out to the appropriate individuals he is hurting or in need of help.

We must be transparent with God always!

Transparency among other Christians is not just about identifying your sins and/or faults, but it is accompanied with a purpose. 

Asks yourself the following before revealing something to others:

(a) Will my personal story accelerate Bible learning by clarifying the truth?

(b) Will my personal illustration show the benefits of obeying a Biblical truth or the painful consequences of neglecting it?

(c) Will my self-revelation encourage others to share needs and/or prayer requests?

Transparency is an acknowledgment of who Jesus is as well as recognition of what Jesus has done for you.

When we are not transparent in our lives and in what we are facing, then we lose the power that comes with transparency.

When we are transparent with people, both about our past and about what we are struggling with, in the present, it releases the power of God not only to encourage others but also releases a force that shows a God that works in my life presently.

When we hide, then we eliminate the mighty force that God wants to use in our lives.

Jesus shared with them what He was facing, and the fact that He could face it and that He was willing to walk forward into such a situation showed faith and dependence on God that no one had seen before.

5. Christians do not oversimplify hard problems (Job)

Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people?

It is human nature to want answers to all our questions. That is the basis of most of the things we do in life; to find the answer.

Some problems cannot simply be solved because they are beyond our capacity to understand or do not have an answer.

The book of Job is a notable example of this:

For those not familiar, the story is of a Godly man who gets totally slammed, losing his money, his children, and his health pretty much all at once. What follows is a discussion between him and his wife, then him and some friends, and finally him and God. 

All participants agreed with the idea—apparently accepted doctrine at the time—that if you did well, you would live well. Or, to put it another way, terrible things only happen to bad people. Job’s friends urge him to ‘fess up’ since his difficulties prove that he has done evil. 

Job agrees with the doctrine, but then asserts that something has gone wrong, because he has NOT done evil. He complains vigorously about this, first to his friends, and then to God.

Then, God answers. And what He says is not at all what evangelicals tend to teach. God starts off by showing Job various creatures and natural events, and then demanding that Job explain them. 

When Job cannot, God basically says, “Well, if you can’t understand this simple stuff, how in the world can you expect to understand the hard stuff. I do, but you can’t’.” (Job 38) End of story.

When we try to solve problems that are outside our scope, we often end up causing more harm than God. Often, instead of being a problem solver, people just want someone who is willing to listen to their problems and empathize with them. 

6. Judging the World instead of the Church

“12 What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? 13 God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked person from among you.” (1 Corinthians 5:12-13)”

Jesus’ call to go into all the world and share the gospel necessitates we live in the world. But we are not to be of the world. The world lives by a separate set of standards. Because they live by different morals and values, we cannot hold those living outside the church to the same standards we hold those living in the church, meaning those who profess Jesus as their Savior. 

We cannot judge them for what they do not know. We leave their judgment to God who alone knows the hearts of men.

Scandal rocked the Corinthian church. A man, most likely a teacher or leader within the church, was “sleeping with his father’s wife” (probably stepmother) in an ongoing incestuous relationship. Jewish law explicitly forbids such behavior. (Leviticus 18:8). 

When Paul learned of it, appalled as he was at the sin itself, his anger and disgust burned because of the church’s response. He expected grief and shame. Yet the church not only failed to address their brother’s sin, they tolerated it.

We are called to judge. But only in very defined circumstances within the four walls of the church. And in exercising that judgment, we must examine our own hearts first. Our motives must be pure and for the good of the church. And we are never to judge those outside the church. 

Strengthened Faith

In the end, we find great peace in knowing that we serve an amazing God who sent His only son to die for or sins. We hope this post How to become an effective Christian helped enrich your faith. The next post will dig deeper and take things to another level, where we talk about the Godly Person.

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