Tag Archives: Christian

Feeling Sorry for That Poor Man in Sierra Leone? Don’t

Talk about flawed. Read the following verses from :

And the Lord spoke to Moses and to Aaron, saying, 27 “How long shall sthis wicked congregation grumble against me? tI have heard the grumblings of the people of Israel, which they grumble against me. 28 Say to them, u‘As I live, declares the Lord, vwhat you have said in my hearing I will do to you: 29 wyour dead bodies shall fall in this wilderness, and xof all your number, listed in the census yfrom twenty years old and upward, who have grumbled against me, 30 not one shall come into the land where I zswore that I would make you dwell, aexcept Caleb the son of Jephunneh and Joshua the son of Nun.

What was your reaction to reading that? Sorrow? Sorrow for the rebellion of a people toward their gracious God?

Want to know mine? I was sad. I was sad that that generation was forgotten. It was erased off the face of the earth. Erased out of collective memory.

I was sad that no one’s name–except for Caleb and Joshua–was preserved in history. And that that fate was more than likely my fate.


The Man in the Sierra Leone Village

I am obsessed with obscurity. I fear falling out of earshot with the literary elite–both living and dead.

I fear if my name is not embedded for AT LEAST four hundred years in our anthologies that I will have failed.

As you can imagine, this has created massive and unnecessary grief in the mornings spent agonizing over my future. Stupid attempts at attention.

Strangely enough, I used to feel sorry for the anonymous of the world. The man in the small village in the hills of Sierra Leone.

I used to feel guilty for my fortune of growing up in a country where opportunities are abundant. Where fame is at arms reach. While they were damned to obscurity.

Then it dawned on me: if not for the grace of God, those forces are at work on everyone.

Including me.

How I Have It Backwards

But that scheme is all wrong to begin with. I am elevating popularity in this life over popularity in the next life. On this note, the Bible is clear: popularity in this life equals .

However, obscurity–anonymity–in this life equals popularity in the next. Every advantage I have over that man in Sierra Leone in this life amounts to a disadvantage in the next life.

He will be honored beyond anything I could have ever imagined. And that is the more precious prize.

Interview with an Ex-Atheist: Matthew Blair

Part of the Interview with an Ex-Atheist series.

Okay, thought I’d introduce today’s guest via a really bad poem I wrote. Here we go.

…dog groomer extraordinaire.

Once a legalist bent on pleasing man…now a huge reformed Baptist fan.

Savvy in the art of cutting canine hair…he also excels in exegeting the gospel with care.

His  aims to help tired legalists lay in Christ’s finished plan…but his heart truly beats for union with Calvary’s victorious [fill in the blank].

[Two dollars and fifty-cents for anyone who can guess the end of the rhyme. Hint: It’s not a true rhyme. I fudged. Just a tad.]

Okay. Enough nonsense. Onward.

1. How would you describe your religious bent: Christian, non-Christian or other?

I’m an unashamed Reformed Baptist.

I started my regenerate life as a dispensational fundamental (as my grandfather is), which then spilled into a non-denominational Armenian at my local Calvary Chapel, and finally to where I am now…basking in the glories of the reformed faith. Thanks to 8 or so hours of good podcasts a day, I came to “exalt God on high and lay man in the dust” as it were.

2. Were you religious before you became an atheist?

Nope…well. Sort of. I was an evolutionist, and in my opinion, evolution has become somewhat of a religion requiring quite a bit of faith on the part of the one holding to it. After I went to college, it only deepened my feelings for it.

Hehehe…”But God….”

3. What makes you think you were an atheist?

Knowing what I know now, I would classify my self as an agnostic back then. Only someone who possess full knowledge can truly say they are an atheist in the fullest meaning of the word.

I didn’t know any better. I grew up in an unbelieving home in which the only time God or Jesus was brought up was to blaspheme His name. I was an “atheist” by default I guess you might say. My folks were, so was I.

4. How did Christians treat you as an atheist?

Honestly, I didn’t know any. I went to public school and was surrounded by like minds…minds dead in their sin being taught by others dead in their sin. Sad, really. Had I known any, I probably would have thought they were weak minded and believers of fairy tales.

I can remember once as a small child opening up a bible on my bed and reading from it. It was like reading another language. I remember that distinctly.

5. How are you treated by atheists now? Persecuted?

They tolerate me.

In the beginning of my new life, I was a typical annoying new believer. All fire and no wood…ready to change the world for Jesus! My coworkers thought I was a little nutty, but they were professing Catholics from North East Philly, so my Jesus talk was a little familiar…just with zeal.

Persecution? Nothing like our brothers and sisters around the world receive on a daily basis I assure you!

6. What was the final event or argument that brought you to believe in God?

I can’t really remember. Such as the Spirit goes, you know?

It was a process, but ultimately, I came to the end of rope. I felt nothing in my life but utter desperation and conflict….I saw Jesus as the only way to go. It wasn’t my doing…it was all Him.

7. Was it head or heart that led you to God? Or both?

In the beginning, heart. I still cannot explain it to this day, but it was as if (and I know this sounds silly) Jesus just lit up like a Christmas tree. Bizarre….and I still haven’t come to grips with it, but it’s as if darkness was pushed aside and light poured in. My conversion? Maybe. The beginnings of His drawing me? Possibly. One day I’ll find out.

8. Have you talked to any atheists about giving up atheism? How did they react?

The only real conversations I had at depth with atheists were a few forum discussions ( and ) and a b I jumped in on a while back (see comments). I didn’t handle it very well.

9. When did you know you were a Christian? Did it scare you?

Dunno…but I will say this: The first time I ever “felt” grace was on my way to work one morning while stopped at a red light in front of Dominick’s Pizza. I set there and felt fully justified…fully clean. Heck, maybe that was my conversion!

10. What do you want to accomplish with your life?

Ugh, by God’s grace to be like His son. It’s what we all want, right!?

11. Who are your heroes? Why?

I don’t have enough space to list them all, but my top five would be my wife who prayed for my salvation for years while we were dating and even after we got married…my grandfather who always bore a silent testimony to Christ in his home…William Tyndale for doing what he did to get God’s word into the hands of the common folk…James White for doing what he does in defending the faith and bearing witness to a biblical Christ…and John Piper who I think was the guy that finally sealed the deal for my belief in the reformed faith.

12. What would you like to accomplish with your blog?

I struggle with legalism…it was part of my upbringing to please everyone and have no one mad at me I think. I started the  to try and help others struggling to see Christ and to rest in His finished work. I consider myself a reform(ed)ing legalist. It’s still something I fight against tremendously. To help one saint rest in Christ would be well worth every second I’ve put into it. I’ve swayed a bit from that from time to time, but that’s my heart.

13. What’s your favorite part about being a Christian?

Being forgiven and the thought that I was once bound to hell and was given mercy beyond all measure. Yea…that’s the best part!

14. Would you ever bail on Christianity?

Again, knowing now what I know, I believe He will never let me slip from His hand. By trial, suffering, and tribulation, He will see me home. I have been bought at a high price and He’s not about to let me bail.

Matt, thank you immensely for laying it all out there. Okay readers, say “hello” to Matt and share any comments, questions or concerns. Don’t be shy.

Interview with an Ex-Atheist: Demian Farworth


Part of the Interview with an Ex-Atheist series.

Okay. First, let me apologize.

Launching this ex-atheist series took longer than I hoped. So sorry I drug my feet.

In my defense, though, the reason I took so long was because I wasn’t sure this was the right thing to do.

Just a gut feeling. But maybe I was veering off in the wrong direction.

So…I spent time in prayer. Mulled it over with God. And talked about it with some close friends.

In the end, I feel good going forward. Think it’ll be harmless. Hopefully eye-opening. And at least marginally satisfying to your spirit.

So, without further non-sense, me.

1. How would you describe your religious bent: Christian, non-Christian or other?

Christian. Classical Christianity. Meaning, biblical and historical Christianity. Adhere to creeds such as the Apostle’s and the Nicene. Follow the teachings of Reformers. Regard the Bible as the highest authority of truth. Recognize Christ as the exclusive way to God.

2. Were you religious before you became an atheist?

No. That’s what made me an atheist, right?

3. What makes you think you were an atheist?

Flat out rejection of God. Jesus Christ. To the point were I even believed Jesus was a mythical figure.

I admit: I was a bad atheist. I didn’t come to that conclusion after a systematic study of evolution or Bart Ehrman. It was more, “You honestly expect me to believe such crap in our modern world?”

I spent most of my time drinking, reading – and writing bad poetry.

4. How did Christians treat you as an atheist?

Depends. I avoided Christians as much as possible. Major buzz kill.

Those I did run into…I think they treated me fine. Gave me the gospel drill, which I swiftly drowned out with a drink or my fingers.

5. How are you treated by atheists now? Persecuted?

For the most part, respect. Naturally you encounter the militant who is determined to make a clown of you. But that’s the minority.

6. What was the final event or argument that brought you to believe in God?

Good question. And unfortunately there’s not a short answer. But I’ll try to sum it up like this:

No single argument. But one single event. When my wife busted me over my emotional infidelity, she threatened divorce. I freaked and said I’d do anything to save the marriage, the family, including making a serious effort at being a Christian.

See, shortly before I got married I “converted.” And said I was a Christian. For ten years. But what became apparent to me post-divorce threat…as I started to read the Bible and people like Ray Comfort, John MacArthur and Jonathan Edwards…was that I’d been deceived.

I’d drank the cultural Christian Kool-Aid that claimed you were a believer if you walked down the aisle or filled out a card or raised your hand.

What it boils down to is this: Profession of faith versus possession of faith. I had the profession but not the possession.

That event opened my eyes. And at some point I received the gift of faith from God. And then the arguments started to pile on.

Jesus’–the historical person who I dismissed as mythical–his life, death and resurrection. What was I to do with that?

With such a clearly substantiated event like that, I thought I’d be insane to ignore it. So I began to believe in it. And be changed. Radically.

7. Was it head or heart that led you to God? Or both?

Neither. It was God who cleaned my clock and said “You’re with me.” At that point, though, shortly after the near-miss with divorce, I’d been awakened and was like, “Yeah, I’m with you.”

That’s when I began my journey to understand my new faith.

This process is identical with the story of the . He first is awakened out of his spiritual slumber, then returns to his father. Same with me. I was awakened, recognized my depravity and confessed my sin.

8. Have you talked to any atheists about giving up atheism? How did they react?

Lots of atheists. And usually they respond, “Sorry, tried that. Didn’t work for me.”

However, I’ve learned, especially through my blog, that it’s not about winning arguments. It’s about a clear articulation of the Gospel.

That’s what matters. Everything else is peripheral.

9. When did you know you were a Christian? Did it scare you?

Again, no single event. Clearly a process. That’s conversion as described in the Bible.

And naturally when you have the rug pulled out from under you…you are scared. I’d wrapped myself up in this solitary, vigorous pursuit of literary fame–emotionally, professionally and personally–and now that’s gone?

Talk about an identity crisis.

What filled that vacuum is light-years more satisfying than what was there before, though.

10. What do you want to accomplish with your life?

Use my gift of writing to spread the Gospel. Train my children to love God. Serve my wife with compassion and humility.

11. Who are your heroes? Why?

John Piper. I think that man is a gift from the past. What do I mean by that? He’s a Puritan to the core. And the best thing we could have to an actual flesh and blood Jonathan Edwards.

12. What would you like to accomplish with your blog?

Use my gift of writing to spread the Gospel.

13. What’s your favorite part about being a Christian?

Exalting Christ.

14. Would you ever bail on Christianity?

The only reason I am a Christian is because of God’s mercy and grace. And the only reason I remain a Christian is because of God’s mercy and grace.

And because of God’s faithfulness I know that his word is true today and tomorrow, so when he says that no one can snatch a man from his grip, if I ever bail on Christianity it will because he let me go. But he doesn’t let believers go. So, I’m confident I will remain a Christian until the day I die.

Shew. That was harder than I thought. Anyway, I’ll roll out another interview in two weeks. You up for another interview? Let me know. And if you have any questions, fire away. I’ll try to answer.

Doubt and the Chief Purpose of the Holy Spirit

In which you learn something peculiar about the Cold War Russian Christian’s biblical diet.

Did you know that if you lived in  as a Christian…

Your diet of religious teaching amounted to smuggled Bibles and a state-printed encyclopedia of atheism?

You have to wonder…

In the face of hostile, overwhelming anti-Christian propaganda, how did these Christians NOT abandon Christ?

The answer: The inner witness of the Holy Spirit.

What Is the Inner Witness of the Holy Spirit?

The chief purpose of the Holy Spirit is to provide personal assurance of a believer’s salvation. , ”The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God.”

In other words,  with his spirit to secure us for the day when our salvation is complete–the day of redemption.

He stamps us with his official ownership by placing the Holy Spirit upon us. This seal indicates his ownership and authority over us. And our safety and security in him.

the inscription of God’s seal reads, “The Lord knows those who are his.”

When Are We Sealed with God’s Spirit?

At salvation. And every Christian believer is sealed. In fact, even the spiritually immature Corinthians were sealed.

them when he writes that God “set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.”

The Valuable Role of the Holy Spirit in Apologetics

And because God permanently sealed us with his spirit, we are forever secure as his prized possession. No power on earth or in heaven…now or yet to come…is strong enough to break this seal.

That means our final redemption rests entirely on God and his authority. That means no earthly discouragement or circumstance can change who owns and guards us.

And that means this confidence in the witness plays a valuable role in convincing believers of their own relationship with God.

It’s an indirect confirmation of the truth of the Christian Gospel. That is, in it’s essence, the inner witness of the Holy Spirit.

The Inner Witness Exceeds All Human Testimony

When you become a genuine believer, you experience the Holy Spirit’s presence. It’s an immediate experience of God himself.

And while this is a subjective assurance of Christian truth–and not very helpful in convincing a non-believer–it provides a concrete assurance for the believer.

Thus, as Christian believers we have the testimony of the loving God in us. And this testimony exceeds in force all human testimony.

It’s how Christian believers behind the Iron Curtain survived in spite of tremendous, systematic oppression.

It’s how Luther could stand before an emperor who wanted nothing less than an ironclad recantation and say “…my conscience is captive to the Word of God. Thus I cannot and will not recant, because acting against one’s conscience is neither safe nor sound. God help me.”

And it’s how a small band of no-names in the first century relentlessly spread the Gospel throughout the Mediterranean knowing suffering and death loomed behind every corner.


The Holy Spirit is a promise to the Christian believer that God will protect him. And provide for him without limit. And that he will keep every promise he inspired in his word.

Religious doubt. Potential . Aggressive ridicule. Threats of violence. Even death. In the end, all these challenges to a believers faith can’t stand against the inner testimony of God himself.

As the old hymn said, “On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand; All other ground is sinking sand.”

Where are your feet planted, friend?

10 Questions with an Atheist: Luke Muehlhauser

Part of the 10 Questions with an Atheist series.

When Luke Muehlhauser was 19, he got depressed.

He confesses he probably got depressed because all he did was work at Wal-Mart, download music and watch porn.

Mind you, Muehlhauser is a pastor’s son. Born and bred under Christian parents, education and church services.

His struggle was honest and continued for the next 3 years through the help of his father, friends and an enviable bent to understand his Christian faith.

But ultimately, it just didn’t make sense.

Book after book and discussion after discussion, Muehlhauser couldn’t cling to his belief in the existence of God.

Muehlhauser celebrates his deconversion, but also relishes his 22 years as a Christian. In fact, he feels it allows him to “.”

On his blog , Luke makes a point of criticizing atheists as much as he does theists. A weak argument is a weak argument no matter who it comes from.

In addition, he maintains an impressive list–448 and counting–of .

Luke, thank you for your time. And thank you for your thoughts.

1. How would you describe yourself: atheist, agnostic or skeptic? Explain.

I’m a skeptic because the vast, vast majority of truth claims on any subject are false. I’m also a gnostic atheist because I “know” gods don’t exist the same way I “know” fairies don’t exist. I can’t prove the non-existence of either, but I’m pretty sure they don’t exist, having looked at the evidence. But all beliefs come in degrees (see: ). A creator god is extremely improbable already, but an all-good, timeless, spaceless, magical god who sent himself to earth to sacrifice himself to himself to appease himself is even more improbable. In contrast, I’m pretty agnostic about the existence of Buddha, Jesus, Apollonius of Tyana, and Yeshe Tsogyal as historical persons: I just don’t know.

2. When did you know you were an agnostic skeptic? Did it scare you or was it a non-issue?

On January 11, 2008 I admitted to myself I could not believe in God. That decision came slowly, and it was terrifying. I’d been taught that without God, life was meaningless and miserable. I did everything I could to believe. For every atheist book I read, I read 5 books by the best Christian apologists (, , , …). But in the end I had to admit I had no better reason to believe in God than to believe in fairies. Only much later did I find out that there is plenty of joy and purpose without God.

3. Ever suffer persecution as an agnostic skeptic?


4. What do you want to accomplish with your life?

Travel, learning, deep relationships. There are also some open issues in meta-ethics to which I’d like to contribute.

5. Who are your heroes? Why?

No heroes live up to the myths we create around them, but…  saved a billion lives by studying how the world really works and applying his knowledge.  worked out the details of a radical option for human progress. ,, and  are criticizing destructive systems in entertaining and successful ways.

6. What would you like to accomplish with your Common Sense Atheism blog?

I’d like to show why theism is nonsense, and why most of what is said by atheists is also nonsense. I criticize bad atheist arguments very often on my blog.

7. What’s your favorite part about being an agnostic skeptic?

That’s like asking, “What’s your favorite part about not believing in fairies?” So instead I’ll tell you what my favorite part about being a critical thinker is. I no longer fear the truth. I’m no longer worried that new discoveries will overthrow my dogmas – because I have none. I am always excited by the truth, even when it overthrows something that is precious to me.

8. Are there any Christian concepts that you respect?

Everything specific to Christianity is pretty bad. But I admire some values from earlier traditions that also make their appearance in certain flavors of Christianity: non-violence, generosity, love…

9. Does it irritate you when Christians try to share their faith with you?


10. Were you ever a Christian? Would you go back?

I was a Christian for most of my life. I would go back if I found good reasons to believe.

Bonus question: What’s your take on Singer? Thumbs up or down? Explain.

Singer is popular for his work on animal rights, but he would be less popular if people knew Singer thinks it’s okay to kill retarded kids. At the meta-ethical level he defends evolutionary ethics, which is absurd and rightly dismissed by Christian apologists. At the normative level he defends preference utilitarianism, which is unworkable. I’m glad he gives so much to charity, but I say thumbs down. If you want to read a decent atheist ethical philosopher, try , , or .

Luke, thank you for your time and your honesty.  I especially appreciate your openness.

Now, anybody have any comments or questions for Luke? Ask away. Looking forward to hearing from you.

My Love Affair with Obscurity

Are you an introvert? If so, you might relate to my perennial on-again, off-again affair with obscurity.

I’m an introvert. Hard-wired for solitude. Hellbent on books. Infatuated with writing.

I’m bewitched by libraries, bookstores and universities. Enchanted with long trail hikes, mowing the lawn and extended runs.

Yes, I nurse a subtle attraction to an anchoritic lifestyle.

Eighteen hundred years ago I might have been a desert hermit.

One thousand years ago I might’ve been a  monk.

In fact, just twelve years ago I was an ascetic living in my mother’s basement. [Then I met my wife.]

Do you see what’s wrong? There are no people. And a Christian separated from people–whether believer or unbeliever–is mildly impotent.

Funny thing is, I have a people first job. I have a very forward looking blog. In other words, I have a commitment to interact with…people.

I can’t ignore them. Not in good conscience, at least.

Yet, my soul constantly longs for obscurity. For cover to duck behind when I see someone coming. And to do this for long periods of time.

Wittgenstein’s Restless Wanderings

This reminds me of a story about philosopher . In a fit of arrogance he left the academic world that loved him so much to teach school children in a rural Austrian village.

However, this stint as a teacher closed when a 11-year-old boy collapsed after Wittgenstein struck him.  [Wittgenstein was fond of corporeal punishment.]

Although cleared of misconduct, Wittgenstein abandoned his school teacher post and worked as a gardener’s assistant at a monastery near Vienna.

In time Wittgenstein contemplated becoming a monk. He went as far as to find out the qualifications. Yet, during the interview someone advised him that monastery life wasn’t for him.

My Trigger-Happy Bent Towards Self

The reason why I mention this portion of Wittgenstein’s life is that I’m enamoured with it. Although it was a period of great despair for Wittgenstein…I look upon it with envy.

Why? Wittgenstein is embedded in obscurity! And that has an odd charm to me…

But here’s the problem: This is nothing more than a clear case of narcissism. The excessive love of self.

Even in an isolated, monastic environment where I could pursue God without barrier or boundary, it’s truly about my needs. And can only lead to an ever-growing, unrestrained love of self and lack of empathy for others.

Martin Luther, in his said:

Our nature, by the corruption of the first sin, [being] so deeply curved in on itself that it not only bends the best gifts of God towards itself and enjoys them (as is plain in the works-righteous and hypocrites), or rather even uses God himself in order to attain these gifts, but it also fails to realize that it so wickedly, curvedly, and viciously seeks all things, even God, for its own sake.

This is what Augustine called . A life lived inward for self rather than outward for God and others. The antithesis of the Gospel.

It’s a hang up from original sin. And a constant struggle as Paul pointed out in . We constantly create idols and construct ways by which we can glorify ourselves. This includes my idol of obscurity.

What Do You Think?

Are you an introvert? If so, do you find being a Christian difficult in the sense that we are to bring a message to the world…which means we are ACTUALLY supposed to befriend and speak to people?

What do you do to combat your shyness? Your tendency to draw inward? I’m curious to hear your thoughts.

By the way, if you liked what you read please . Then share this post on Twitter and Facebook.

I Am Orin Scrivello, Sadistic Blogger

I’m nothing but a sadist. And a blogger. Let me explain. 

Last night I got a great comment on this post Know the Difference Between Religion and the Gospel?:

“I got a great story. It starts like this: F*CK your GOD. Let the consequences BEGIN. ps. Got a tip for U: read more BOOKS>”

Fortunately, his comment ties into a thought that’s been brewing in my head for quite some time. Let me explain.

Poster Child for Careless, Thoughtless Pain

Sadist. That’s the one word that majestically describes Steve Martin’s character in the film .

Orin Scrivello is the poster child for pain. He’s the poster child for careless, thoughtless, inhumane physical punishment.

He spent his childhood shooting puppies. Poisoning guppies. Bashing cat heads. Thus, his mom recommends he become a dentist. Suitable occupation.

Not a priest. Not a teacher. But a dentist.

I think it’s safe to say Orin’s maladjusted and borderline insane. And exactly the opposite of Katie.

Which reminds me of what Tim Keller said about preaching: We are like Orin when we pour on the difficult, bitter texts of the Bible without prefacing…without easing in a bit…without entering their world first.

More than once  speaks to this, too.

We’d never dream of walking into a room where someone is sleeping and turn on the bright lights. It’d freak them out to bad.

So, we’re coached to be witnesses, preachers and evangelists who take it slow.

Where I Struggle With His Advice

This is a new one for me. I don’t have the patience to work slowly. Build the relationship. Ease into the conversation. [That’s probably why I’m a writer.]

I think I know why: Fear and insecurity drives me to bail on the conversation as soon as possible. So, get it over with quickly. That means simply drop the bomb and move on.

It’s sadistic, I know. And causes lots of damage. Call me “Orin, the Sadistic Christian.”

But let me ask you this: If I would have approached last night’s post differently–entered the non-Christian’s world, say–would that have blunted the message? Would that have changed the commenter’s response from ferocious to calm?

I don’t think so. But I’d like to hear your thoughts. Leave them in the comments. Brutal and all. I’m here to learn.

6 Things Joel Osteen Won’t Tell You about Being a True Christian

Everything you know about being a true Christian is wrong. Especially if you are a member of Joel Osteen’s church.

This post is in honor of my buddies Michael Horton and  Joel Osteen…

See, I’m reading Horton’s book  this week.

And, in a nutshell, Horton majestically fleeces Osteen for preaching a defective gospel.

So, as I draw to a close on reading the book, I wanted to draw out six wrong conclusions Osteen shares about being a Christian.

Read on for the drama.

Where Did Osteen Go Wrong?

Joel Osteen went wrong when he decided to become a  preacher.

On any given sunday at . . . Joel Osteen’s church. . .you’ll hear a pulpit full of the abundant life gospel: try a little harder and luxuries galore will fall into your lap.

Unfortunately, Osteen’s dead wrong.

When we become Christians–born again believers–God doesn’t promise a life of ease. Just the opposite.

True Christians Are Dominated by Jesus

People become like those who dominate them. A true Christian acts like Christ.

It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. 

A true Christian is a . Of course, a true Christian will lapse occasionally. But there will be evidence of Christlikeness in the everyday life of the true Christian.

True Christians Are Rejected

Other people will  as they did Christ. If you are a genuine Christian, you can expect the world that rejects Christ to reject you.

True Christians Are Fearless

True Christians are not . They fear God more than man.

When the world turns hostile and persecutes the true christian. . .when his friends cast him out. . .when his family alienates him. . .a true Christian is not afraid. As , he’s utterly given himself over to Christ.

True Christians Are Hardcore Loyal

When the heat is on, when the pressure and the persecution are bearing down and the world is hostile, the . He’ll go to jail or take a bullet in the mouth rather than deny Jesus.

True Christians Forsake Family

In  Jesus said, “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword….For I have come to set man against this father.”

Becoming a true Christian could fracture your family every way possible. It’s hard. It’s sacrificial. And it supersedes everything.

True Christians Deny Self–Even to Death

Ambition. Dreams. Jobs. Friends. Life. A true Christian will give up all of these to follow Jesus.

And he who does not take his cross and follow after me is not worthy of Me. 

Because of the failed insurrection of , the disciples understood “take up your cross” to mean death.

Your cross isn’t a dying grandmother or miserable job. It’s confessing Christ in the face of death. It’s utter self denial.

The Joy of Being a True Christian

Here’s the point: What these six things do is prove the reality of your conversion. The abundant life gospel doesn’t do that.

Now, does being a true Christian mean you’re life is always going to be filled with hostile people, unbearable circumstances and constant death threats?

No. When we preach, live and witness, some people will actually respond in repentance. That’s pretty humbling: God used a defective, bumbling bonehead to save someone else.

It’ll make you weep.

But somehow–as Horton points out–this part of the gospel is missing from Osteen’s sermons.

Why is that? I have a theory: Maybe he’s afraid of being rejected. What do you think? Leave your thoughts–brutal and all–in the comments.

Disclaimer: I use the word “buddy” loosely. Very loosely.

**Part of the Curmudgeon’s Guide to Sharing Your Faith series.**

My Salvation Story

Most people’s testimony starts with a date. Possibly a time. Likely a location. Sometimes a person. Mine starts in much the same way.

Late November of 1996, in , my aunt led me to the Lord. Quite dramatically my life changed.

I stopped drinking, sleeping around and started going to church. I eventually met my wife, got a job, created children, bought a home and spent a lot of time at church: whether in worship, teaching Sunday school or acting in church-sponsored dramas.

I was what you might call a typical Christian. But something was wrong. Very wrong.

Destroying My Family

Throughout the first ten years of my so called Christian walk, I obsessed about one thing–and one thing only.

Becoming a world famous writer.

Much to the disappointment of my wife, this ambition took first place to everything else–my marriage, children, work and even church.

To give you an example of what this drive did to me, I quite often found myself thinking that I would have to sacrifice my children for this ambition–and that it was quite natural to do that. That this was a necessary part of becoming a world famous writer–neglect your wife and children for the sake of art.

Naturally I thought and worried about the tragedy my children would grow up to be if this came true–but I’d have to live with that. It’s the price I’d have to pay to become that world class writer.

As I said, I was driven, single-mindedly, by one thing. And it wasn’t Christ.

Woefully Detached and Rebellious

But that didn’t concern me. Should have. Just like the “check engine” light in your car, it was a warning that something was off. A warning that I wasn’t the person I said I was.

But I didn’t care.

Yes, I prayed the sinners prayer. Made a decision to accept Christ. Believed he died for my sins–even to the point that I agreed that I was a sinner and that confessing Christ as my Savior would get me a ticket into heaven.

Don’t get me wrong–my mind bought into everything. But my heart was woefully detached and rebellious. I was, in a word, not a true Christian.

How do I know this? On November 30, 2007, I got my clock cleaned in an awful way.

The Day My World Collapsed

November 30, 2007, is the date that my wife discovered–quite innocently–that I had been unfaithful to her. Not physically, but emotionally.

Her world fell apart. As well as mine. In the heat of that day she said she wanted a divorce. I collapsed, overwhelmed by the reality of what was happening.

My father’s marriage ended in divorce. His father’s first marriage ended in divorce. As a product of a divorce–I vowed never to divorce.

But something so stupid, so silly as flirting with a woman who wasn’t my wife, was about to pull my world out from under me.

What It Really Means to Be a Christian

On that day I begged my wife for mercy and in that begging I promised to give up everything that didn’t contribute to our marriage. Among other things, that meant I had to:

  • Abandon my membership in the local writer’s guild.
  • End dozens of relationships with secular writers.
  • Quit a publication that I helped start and even ran.
  • Lay down my ambition to become a world-famous writer.

Naturally, I wallowed in a pit of anxiety as I struggled to find out who I really was.

Only gradually, over time, did it dawn on me that this is exactly what Christ meant when , “If you want to follow me, deny yourself and take up your cross, and come after me.”

What I was experiencing was the very renunciation of life that is required to become a biblical Christian. But the most startling realization came in the months following November 30.

11 Biblical Tests of Genuine Salvation

During that time after November 30 while I read the Bible, listened to ,  and  and learned the basics of Christianity, I realized that for the last ten years I’d been deceived in thinking that I was a Christian.

How do I know I was deceived?

In the ten years that I thought I was a Christian, eleven things could be said about me–eleven things 1 John identifies as the difference between a true and false Christian:

1. Rarely, if ever, during that ten years, did I experience a .

2. I was insensitive to sin in my life. I managed to look quite pious and Christian on the outside while  and unrighteousness on the inside.

3. Rarely, if ever, did I obey God’s commands.  anyone who calls himself a Christian but habitually disobeys God is a liar.

4. Rather than rejecting it, I . This evil world held the trophy I wanted–a reputation for being a world class writer.

5. I didn’t despise the sin in my flesh or long for Jesus’ return. In fact, I despised and even doubted Jesus’ return.

6. Sin did not decrease in my life, but continued and in some occasions even increased. The  is of the devil.

7. I hated fellowship with Christians. They annoyed me, irritated me. Anyone who  is a murderer.

8. I rarely experienced answered prayer. Why? I hardly prayed…I didn’t know what to pray for…and when I did pray, it usually involved half-hearted, unbiblical, self-centered requests. A sure formula for failure when praying.

9. For most of the fruits of the Holy Spirit , I could say I lacked. For the rest, they were grossly underdeveloped.

10. Didn’t know the difference between spiritual truth and error. I sorely missed  the skill of separating divine truth from error.

11. And lastly, I rarely . Frankly, I was ashamed of being a Christian, all to win man’s approval.

In summary, the trajectory of my Christian life during those ten years resembled a sinking line drive.

What My Life Looks Like Now

Naturally, you’re probably wondering how I’m fairing this side of November 30, 2007. Right?

Well, let me say this: there’s a gargantuan difference in my life.

  • I crave alone time with God. Get up at 4:30 in the morning to read my Bible. And think about and talk with God constantly throughout the day.
  • Not that I don’t ever sin–but now when I do sin, I’m horrified.
  • My heartbeat is to obey God. To gear my life around his Word and His work. I don’t always do what He says, but when I don’t do it, I can hardly sleep at night.
  • I hate the evil in this world. And when I am tempted, like I often am, I grieve over that temptation.
  • My heart burns for the return of my Lord.
  • The sin in my life has taken a nose dive. And I’m more aware of the smaller sins that I typically brushed off as inconsequential.
  • I love the great Christian men in my life. I long to be with them. To study with them. To witness with them. And I despair over my weaker brothers.
  • I’ve got a better eye for what God wants me to pray for. And I’ve got a passion to pray for other people. Something you would’ve never seen two years ago.
  • My Bible study is expanding and I’m making inroads with people when sharing my faith that where never there before. Made possible by the Holy Spirit.
  • I’m acutely aware of spiritual error–in myself and others.
  • And finally–from flat-out rejection to more subtle accusations of stupidity–I’m suffering for Christ.

Let me close with this–anytime someone tells me they are a Christian, I’m skeptical. Especially if they base their confidence in salvation on a date and a decision.

So let me challenge you with this: examine yourself to see whether you are in the faith–. And if you pass these tests, 1 John 5:13 says, “you may know that you have eternal life.”

Listen. There’s no reason for you to spend your spiritual experience deluded or in the dumps. Yet thousands of Christians do.

Please, don’t be one of them.

Disclaimer: Deeply indebted to John MacArthur’s tiny book  for the eleven biblical tests of true salvation.

**Part of the Curmudgeon’s Guide to Sharing Your Faith series.**