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posted Mar 26, 2012, 11:33 PM by hbchurch org   [ updated Mar 26, 2012, 11:35 PM ]
The canine world is noted for its variety of breeds. Dogs come in an assortment of shapes, sizes, and colors. But regardless of the differences, a dog is still a dog. However, we don’t insist on ignoring the uniqueness of distinctive traits by referring to all dogs generically, i.e. “just a dog”.

Strangely, when it comes to religious matters people do just the opposite. In spite of notable differences, many people generally assume that any differences in religious beliefs are inconsequential. As far as the world is concerned, a believer is a believer. If this is so, how can we account for Jesus’ rebuke of some who were believers on Him (John 8:31)? He called them children of the devil (John 8:44). Are those who are comfortable lumping all believers together willing to include the believing demons of James 2:19 in the family of God’s favored followers? If that is the case, then it must not matter what you believe just as long as you believe.

An outgrowth of this madness has engendered another popular term: baptized believer. Yes, Jesus said belief and baptism are essential steps for a person’s salvation (Mark 16:16). But it is possible to believe and teach “...things concering Jesus” (Acts 18:25) and still be wrong. Apollos was teaching error when he taught people John’s baptism. He needed to be corrected and he was (Acts 18:26). We see that what one believes is a critical component of right baptism. Just “any ol” so-called baptism is unacceptable to the Lord. Furthermore, Paul’s commendation of the Saints in Rome was not addressed to baptized believers (in a generic sense). He wrote to those who had “obeyed from the heart that pattern of teaching” (Rom. 6:17 HCSV). These people had been taught what to believe and they had obeyed that pattern. Correct actions follow correct teaching. Incorrect teaching cannot produce right actions.

God has never been indifferent toward what one believes or does. In regard to obedience, God has always required strict compliance with His specific instructions. Paul underscored this principle when he told Timothy to “charge certain men not to teach a different doctrine” (1 Tim. 1:3) and condemned “any man who teaches a different doctrine (1 Tim. 6:3). He also urged Timothy to “hold the pattern of sound words” (2 Tim. 1:13). God cares about what people believe and what they do.

Given these clear expressions of God’s attitude toward any deviation from His specific directives, it should be obvious that the generic use of terms like believer and Christian are foreign to the New Testament. There are not different “breeds” of believers. The Bible knows nothing of different “brands” of Chrisians. To ignore the distinctiveness of Bible terms is what Satan wants us to do. To say, “I am a believer” may earn the approval of men, but God sees past all façades. We all need to measure ourselves in the light of His word to see if we are really “in the faith” (2 Cor. 13:5) i.e. true believers.  KD