Christianity-Not like Other Philosophies

To be a true Christian means to completely disown self, giving up the will to God with the understanding that by complete subordination of our will to Jesus we become agents of salvation to our fellow men. This indeed fulfills the true object of our creation and existence namely, to bless humanity and to glorify God.

Robert Bruce Thurber, in his book Personal Power for the New Age, (Signs of the Times Publishing Association), 27, 28 seeks to clarify on being a Christian. He writes, “Being a Christian is not like being a Buddhist, or a Mohammedan, or an atheist, or a Liberal, or a Democrat, or an evolutionist or an osteopath. These are all systems of belief in religion, politics, science or healing. Christianity in its true sense is also a system of belief, but it is more: it is a system of release. It frees.

“All these others are professions which more or less influence men’s lives. Christianity is somewhat of a profession, but very much of a possession. Not that a man possess it, but it possesses a man. It is not a pose before men. It is a rest in Christ. But it rests in him that it may awake to power.”

He continues by affirming, “Christianity is not a ‘comparative religion.’ That is, it is not a religion among other religions, all of which have their strong and weak elements; so that if a person would get all the good, he must pick from each and combine. No, Christianity is all good, or it couldn’t be Christianity. Its very existence depends on the assertion that it is all good.”

What makes all the difference in Christianity? It is Christ and His matchless, perfect life, which makes all the difference! Jesus stated emphatically while here on this earth, “And He that sent Me is with Me: the Father hath not left Me alone; for I do always those things that please Him.” John 8:29.

Elements of Christianity

Jesus had just finished dealing with the Jews and the woman caught in adultery, then, He proclaimed Himself the light of the world and established His relationship with His father; this of course the Pharisees and Jewish people debated. It is out of this background that Jesus reveals another significant component concerning what it really means to be a Christian. These are His words to the Jews: “And He that sent Me is with Me: the Father hath not left Me alone; for I do always those things that please Him.” John 8:29.

Notice in this verse three important elements namely:

  • He that sent Me is with Me
  • The Father hath not left Me alone
  • For I do always those things that please Him

This doctrine that Jesus presented to the Jewish people establishes the totality of what it really means to be a Christian, a follower of Him. It shows clearly the fact that our Saviour is not asking any one of us to do something or be something that He has not modeled. Within these words of our Lord is embedded the secret of living the godly, holy life. Jesus strongly emphasized the reason for His sinless life and the reality of its constancy. Let us examine these three important elements stated by Christ in John’s gospel.

First element of Jesus’ statement on being a Christian

Our Saviour stated, “He that sent Me is with Me.” What does this mean and what is the message that Christ was seeking to convey? Jesus could confidently attest to the fact that the Father who sent Him is with Him, that from the moment of the sending up to the present moment the Father did not leave Him. The presence of God with the believer is significant in that it means the presence of power.

King David in his psalm of thanksgiving for God’s deliverance recorded, “For who is God, save the Lord? and who is a rock, save our God? God is my strength and power: and He maketh my way perfect.” II Samuel 22:32, 33. David’s use of the word power in relation to God means that this God is whatever he needs Him to be to him. Jesus acknowledges this fact in His model prayer, “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.” Matthew 6:13. In Mark’s gospel chapter 9 verse 1 our Lord taught that the kingdom of God comes with power: “And He said unto them, Verily I say unto you, that there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power.”

Now, this word power that is spoken of in Matthew and Mark is the Greek word dunamis which means miraculous power, power that is outside the realm of human ability, power that human beings do not possess. Power that can work the impossible; like, change a hardened sinner into a loving Christian; like, change a fully confirmed homosexual into a straight, happy, holy saint. It is power that can change a drunkard into a sober follower of Christ; power that can root out any and every addiction, hereditary or cultivated which sin may have produced. This is the truth wrapped up in the words of Jesus, “He that sent Me is with Me.” That’s why the apostle Paul states, “For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power.” I Corinthians 4:20.

We are told from the pen of inspiration, “Man needs power outside of, and beyond, himself to restore him to the likeness of God, and to enable him to do the work of God; but this does not make the human agency unessential. Humanity lays hold upon divine power. Christ dwells in the heart by faith; and, through co-operation with the divine, the power of man becomes efficient for good.” The Signs of the Times, April 6, 1904.

Christ clearly taught that divine power is available to Him to perform whatever the One who sends Him requires of Him, and that same power will be given to all those who accept Him as Master. John in his gospel states, “But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name.” John 1:12.

While on earth He gave this power to His followers, as recorded in Luke 10:19: “Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.” Notice that the word power to tread on serpents and scorpions is the Greek word exousia, which means authority or delegated influence. In the Scriptures, people who are obdurate [stubbornly persistent in wrongdoing] are likened to serpents and scorpions. God told the prophet Ezekiel, “And thou, son of man, be not afraid of them, neither be afraid of their words, though briers and thorns be with thee, and thou dost dwell among scorpions: be not afraid of their words, nor be dismayed at their looks, though they be a rebellious house.” Ezekiel 2:6.

John the Baptist also proclaimed, “O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?” Matthew 3:7.

The Christian who is conscious of the presence of God with him or her will not and cannot be affected by the ungodly attitudes of those who regard not God. They will not allow their Christian influence to be tarnished or weakened because of the unchristlike attributes of those who desire to make of none effect their Christian witness. They will ever remember that because God’s presence is with them, He is able to keep them from falling, and to present them faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy (Jude 1:24), for His presence means power.

Going back to Luke 10:19, the second part of the text says, “… and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.” The word power in this statement is the Greek word dunamis, which Satan has, but the authority or power that the Christian has by virtue of the presence of God with him or her makes it impossible for Satan to defeat him or her. So the reason why Satan could not overthrow Christ is as He stated, “… the Father hath not left Me alone.” John 8:29.

Second element of Jesus’ statement on being a Christian.

In coming to this earth, the Father was with Him. He came to this world on the Father’s mission. John 5:19 and 30 tell us that, “Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He seeth the Father do: for what things soever He doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise. … I can of Mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and My judgment is just; because I seek not Mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent Me.” While on this earth Christ did not abandon His Father or His mission, for if this was done He would have separated Himself from His Father’s presence and therefore would have been overcome by the Devil. So, because He did not disregard His Father throughout His sojourn here, He could confidently say, “the Father hath not left Me alone.”

We cease being Christians when we stop following Christ. It’s good to begin with the Lord but it’s better to continue with Him, for it is only then that we are assured of His constant presence with us and it is only then that we have power over the enemy! The servant of the Lord made this statement: “We cannot for one moment separate ourselves from Christ with safety. We may have His presence to attend us at every step, but only by observing the conditions which He has Himself laid down.” The Review and Herald, May 3, 1881.

Here is another counsel that we need to think seriously about if we are going to remain Christians in the truest sense of the word: “If by associating with worldlings for pleasure, by conforming to worldly practices, by uniting our interests with unbelievers, we place our feet in the path of temptation and sin, how can we expect God to keep us from falling?

“Keep yourselves away from the corrupting influences of the world. Do not go unbidden to places where the forces of the enemy are strongly entrenched.

“Do not go where you will be tempted and led astray. But if you have a message for unbelievers, and if you live so near to God that you can speak to them a word in season, you can do a work that will help them and will honor God.” Messages to Young People, 81, 82.

Many professed Christians wonder why they are not advancing in the Christian life, why they keep on being overcome by the enemy. Well, the answer is simple; they have not made a wholehearted commitment to God. Yes, they started with Him, but somewhere along the journey they abandon Christ in order to satisfy self. Remember, it will be impossible to continue with God and for God to continue with us if we allow self to take over at some point in our Christian journey. We will utterly fail and fall under the power of the devil so long as we are separated from the presence of God. From the pen of inspiration we are reminded: “In giving ourselves to God, we must necessarily give up all that would separate us from Him. Hence the Saviour says, ‘Whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be My disciple’ (Luke 14:33). Whatever shall draw away the heart from God must be given up. Mammon is the idol of many. The love of money, the desire for wealth, is the golden chain that binds them to Satan. Reputation and worldly honor are worshiped by another class. The life of selfish ease and freedom from responsibility is the idol of others. But these slavish bands must be broken. We cannot be half the Lord’s and half the world’s. We are not God’s children unless we are such entirely.” Steps to Christ, 44.

Ellen White explains in The Review and Herald article dated June 28, 1887, that when we separate ourselves from God we automatically place ourselves on the side of the enemy. This means we stop working for God and are working for the devil. It means we cease receiving power from God, but power from the devil. It means we are no longer Christians but children of the devil. It is self evident then that by our own experiences, the majority of us who profess to be Christians are only Christians in name, having a form of godliness but denying the power (II Timothy 3:5). For many Christians, they have never experienced the power of God working in their lives, bringing about changes that will allow them to reflect the attributes of Christ in a most significant way to the degree that the lives of others will be totally transformed to the glory of God.

We need to answer the question as to why Jesus was successful in His righteous journey here on earth. Why is it that He did not sin? Is it a planned thing between Him and His Father that, no matter what, He would not sin? What made our Saviour defeat the devil and win the victory for us?

Third element of Jesus’ statement on being a Christian

This leads us to our third and final element as stated by Jesus in John 8:29, “And He that sent Me is with Me: the Father hath not left Me alone; for I do always those things that please Him.”

The question, Who am I? cannot be answered by man outside of Christ. From within our sinful state we are tempted to believe that our true self is the self apart from God. Such a life only distorts and warps our identity. Therefore man puts total stock in himself. Self is his chief interest and center of reference. His basic loyalty is to himself. The higher the position he occupies, the more important his status, the greater the desire for recognition, the more he exaggerates his own importance. This exaggerated importance attached to self is wholly contrary to our Lord and His chosen role as servant.

So the truth is, it will be impossible to please Jesus if we do not first deny or disown self completely and surrender totally our will to Him. Christ taught that the Father was with Him and that the Father did not leave Him alone because Jesus always did those things that were pleasing to Him. I, for my part, choose to do likewise. So, where we are concerned, for Christ to be with us always, giving us overcoming power to melt away every weight and the sins which doth so easily beset us (Hebrews 12:1) enabling us to be true Christians, we then must resolve in our minds that we will please Him.

The word please which Christ used in John 8:29 is the Greek word arestos meaning agreeable, hence Jesus was always in total agreement with His Father, and this was so throughout His life here on earth setting us an example. The prophet Amos asked the question, “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” Amos 3:3. The answer is obvious! We will never be able to agree with God and His program as long as self is in control. Listen to what the servant of the Lord has to say about that:

“Half-hearted Christians obscure the glory of God, misinterpret piety, and cause men to receive false ideas as to what constitutes vital godliness. Others think that they, also, can be Christians and yet consult their own tastes and make provision for the flesh, if these false-hearted professors can do so. On many a professed Christian’s banner the motto is written, ‘You can serve God and please self—you can serve God and mammon.’ ” The Review and Herald, August 19, 1890.

Also, in The Review and Herald article dated June 11, 1901, we are further counseled, “If we constantly receive grace from God, we shall be vessels unto honor, sanctified and meet for the Master’s use. Daily receiving blessings, we shall daily impart blessings to those around us. But in order to be successful in this work, we must deny self. We cannot at the same time please self and serve Christ. We are not to follow our own inclinations, but look to Jesus, waiting to receive orders from our Captain.”

Here is one final statement that will make the matter clear to our minds: “Those who live to please and gratify self are dishonoring the Lord. He cannot work through them, for they would misrepresent Him before those who are ignorant of the truth.” Notebook Leaflets from the Elmshaven Library, vol. 1, 13.

So, let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter. The apostle Paul sums it up wonderfully, “So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.” Romans 8:8. May we remember that the whole adventure of living the Christian life is a continual challenge to die to self and live for Christ. This problem is not solved by human wisdom, but by the power of God. Nothing but a miracle can free us from self-centeredness. But God is used to working miracles of this kind.

I encourage us all; let us accept the challenge of every day allowing Christ to live His life in and through us. Our personal failure, the discouragement resulting from self-will and pride, this sensitiveness that is always getting hurt—face it with Christ. Life with Christ provides us with a margin of power greater than the self-life. Paul wrote, “Furthermore then we beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more.” I Thessalonians 4:1. Knowing “For even Christ pleased not Himself; but, as it is written, the reproaches of them that reproached Thee fell on Me.” Romans 15:3.

The words of the song, “Yes Lord Yes” (, sums up what I believe God wanted to convey to us in this message:

Yes, Lord, yes, to Your will and to Your way.
Yes, Lord, yes, I will trust You and obey.
When Your Spirit speaks to me,
With my whole heart I’ll agree,
And my answer will be, yes Lord, yes!

May it be said of us as was said of faithful Enoch, “By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.” Hebrews 11:5. Thus I say to all of us, being a Christian means in the truest sense pleasing God, always agreeing fully and completely with Jesus!

Pastor Ivan Plummer ministers through the Emmanuel Seventh Day Church Ministries in Bronx, New York. He may be contacted by telephone at: 718-882-3900.