The Book of Matthew

Wednesday: A Personal Knowledge of the Lord

Matthew 7:21-23 In this week’s lessons, we look at the dangers of nominal Christianity, and see what is really involved to be a Christian.
Theme
A Personal Knowledge of the Lord

The need for a personal knowledge of and relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ can be seen in the experience of Martin Luther. Luther was so concerned for his soul that he left his training in a secular occupation to enter the monastery of the Augustinian hermits in Erfurt, Germany. Erfurt’s monastery was popular and respected. There Luther soon made good progress and was ordained to the priesthood. He studied Scripture, becoming a doctor of theology. He lectured on the Psalms, Romans, Galatians, Hebrews, and Titus. Now if anyone had asked Luther at this point in his life, “Dr. Luther, do you believe in the divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ?” he would have answered, “Of course, I do. I have always believed it.” If you had asked, “Dr. Luther, do you believe that Jesus died on the cross and that he died for your sin?” he would have answered, “Yes,” even though he did not then understand what that meant and was not born again. If you had asked, “Dr. Luther, do you believe that Jesus Christ is coming back again to judge the world?” Luther would have answered, “Yes, I do, and I tremble at the thought.” Why would he have said that? The answer is simply that he did not know the Lord personally. Jesus was God, but not his God. Jesus was Lord, but not his Lord. Jesus was Savior, but not his Savior. And he had to come to each of these points himself before the peace that he craved became his, and before he could be used of God as the great Protestant reformer.

Because a man can believe certain Christian doctrines with his head and yet still not be converted, there will always be counterfeit or nominal Christians in Church circles. Some of them will be dangerous, for they will be planted there by the devil to deceive the unwary, like tares in fields of wheat. Others will only be self-deluded. Whatever the case, however, the world will be able to point to them and say, “Ah look at those hypocrites; that’s why I’m not a Christian.” Don’t be discouraged by that. Just be sure that you are not one of them. If you are not to be, you must ask the Lord to reveal the state of your own heart before Him and lead you to the fullness of belief in Christ and commitment to Him.

Study Questions
  1. What in Luther’s life might cause someone to conclude he was a Christian before he was actually converted? What was missing?
  2. In what ways can counterfeit or nominal Christians be dangerous?
  3. How can Christians show hypocrisy before the world by saying or doing things that are contrary to Scripture, and that even the world recognizes as inconsistent with Christianity?
Application

Application: Are there areas in your life where you need to work at maintaining a consistently Christian testimony?

For Further Study: Download and listen for free to James Boice’s message, “Marks of a True Disciple.” (Discount will be applied at checkout.)

For Further Study: To learn more about Martin Luther, the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals is offering Carl Trueman’s book, Luther on the Christian Life, for 20% off the regular price.

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