Pope Francis: Don’t Be A Christian in Name Only — Love God and serve others to become citizens of heaven

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Pope Francis kisses the foot of an inmate at the juvenile detention center of Casal del Marmo, Rome, on March 28, 2013. AP

Not all those who claim to be Christians really are, said Pope Francis Friday morning. Some are Christians “in name only,” he said. “They bear the name of Christians but live a life of pagans.”In his homily at Mass, the Pope that there have always been two types of Christian, those who truly followed Christ and those who only pretended to. At the time of Saint Paul, there were “worldly Christians, Christians in name only, with two or three Christian features, but nothing more.”
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The Pope called this sort of people “Pagan Christians,” whom St. Paul called “enemies of the cross of Christ.”
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In Paul’s time, the Pope said, the two groups of Christians “were in church together, went to Mass on Sunday, praised the Lord, and were called Christians.” So what was the difference?
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He asked. The second were “enemies of the cross of Christ.”The Pope went on to say that “even today there are many! We must be careful not to slip into the way of pagan Christians.” These are the ones, he said, who are “pagans painted over with two brush strokes of Christianity, so they look like Christians, but are really pagans.”According to Francis, we all run the risk of becoming “Christians in appearance.”
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We are tempted, he said, to mediocrity, and when Christians become mediocre, “it is their ruin, because the heart cools and they become lukewarm.”
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Francis reminded his hearers that Jesus used strong language to describe this sort of Christians: “Because you are lukewarm, I will vomit you out of my mouth.” These, the Pope said, “are enemies of the cross of Christ. They take the name of Christian, but do not follow the requirements of the Christian life.”
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The Pope suggested that there are questions we can ask ourselves to know what sort of Christians we are. He said that all of us—the Pope included—need to ask ourselves: “How much worldliness is in me? How much paganism?”Even more specifically, the Pope asked: “Do I like to brag? Do I like money? Do I like my pride, my arrogance? Where are my roots, and where is my citizenship? In heaven or on earth?”“If you love money and are attached to it, if you love vanity and pride, you are headed down a bad road,” he said. If, instead, he continued, “you try to love God and serve others, if you are gentle, if you are humble, if you are the servant of others, you are on the right path. Your citizenship is in heaven.”

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But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ. (Philippians 3:20)
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Christians must understand their roles as citizens of Heaven here on earth so that they can maximize their full potential as one who brings praise to God. I am not sure if the Church really understands what it means to be a citizen of heaven, but I believe the apostle Peter gives us a glimpse in one of his letters, of what our roles are and how we are suppose to respond as citizens of heaven.
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Living As Citizens Of Heaven On Earth!
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PASSAGE: 1 Peter 2:9

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“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light.”
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Peter was writing to an audience who were mostly Gentile Christian and who were dispersed through out the provinces of Rome.
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Question: “What is Christianity and what do Christians believe?”
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Answer: The core beliefs of Christianity are summarized in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4.

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Jesus died for our sins, was buried, was resurrected, and thereby offers salvation to all who will receive Him in faith. Unique among all other faiths, Christianity is more about a relationship than religious practices. Instead of adhering to a list of “do’s and don’ts,” the goal of a Christian is to cultivate a close walk with God. That relationship is made possible because of the work of Jesus Christ and the ministry of the Holy Spirit.

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Beyond these core beliefs, there are many other items that are, or at least should be, indicative of what Christianity is and what Christianity believes. Christians believe that the Bible is the inspired, “God-breathed” Word of God and that its teaching is the final authority in all matters of faith and practice (2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:20-21).

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Christians believe in one God that exists in three persons—the Father, the Son (Jesus Christ), and the Holy Spirit.Christians believe that mankind was created specifically to have a relationship with God, but sin separates all men from God (Romans 3:23; 5:12). Christianity teaches that Jesus Christ walked this earth, fully God, and yet fully man (Philippians 2:6-11), and died on the cross.

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Christians believe that after His death, Christ was buried, He rose again, and now lives at the right hand of the Father, making intercession for the believers forever (Hebrews 7:25). Christianity proclaims that Jesus’ death on the cross was sufficient to completely pay the sin debt owed by all men and this is what restores the broken relationship between God and man (Hebrews 9:11-14; 10:10; Romans 5:8; 6:23).

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Christianity teaches that in order to be saved and be granted entrance into heaven after death, one must place one’s faith entirely in the finished work of Christ on the cross. If we believe that Christ died in our place and paid the price of our own sins, and rose again, then we are saved.

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There is nothing that anyone can do to earn salvation.

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We cannot be “good enough” to please God on our own, because we are all sinners (Isaiah 53:6; 64:6-7).

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There is nothing more to be done, because Christ has done all the work!

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When He was on the cross, Jesus said, “It is finished” (John 19:30), meaning that the work of redemption was completed.According to Christianity, salvation is freedom from the old sin nature and freedom to pursue a right relationship with God.

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Where we were once slaves to sin, we are now slaves to Christ (Romans 6:15-22). As long as believers live on this earth in their sinful bodies, they will engage in a constant struggle with sin.

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However, Christians can have victory in the struggle with sin by studying and applying God’s Word in their lives and being controlled by the Holy Spirit—that is, submitting to the Spirit’s leading in everyday circumstances.

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So, while many religious systems require that a person do or not do certain things, Christianity is about believing that Christ died on the cross as payment for our own sins and rose again. Our sin debt is paid and we can have fellowship with God. We can have victory over our sin nature and walk in fellowship and obedience with God. That is true biblical Christianity.

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Recommended Resources: Jesus: The Greatest Life of All by Charles Swindoll and Logos Bible Software.

Read more: http://www.gotquestions.org/Christianity.html#ixzz3IUffwb2e

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Question: “How can believers be in the world, but not of the world?”

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Answer: When we read of the “world” in the New Testament, we are reading the Greek word cosmos. Cosmos most often refers to the inhabited earth and the people who live on the earth, which functions apart from God. Satan is the ruler of this “cosmos” (John 12:31; 16:11; 1 John 5:19).

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By the simple definition that the word world refers to a world system ruled by Satan, we can more readily appreciate Christ’s claims that believers are no longer of the world—we are no longer ruled by sin, nor are we bound by the principles of the world. In addition, we are being changed into the image of Christ, causing our interest in the things of the world to become less and less as we mature in Christ.

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Believers in Jesus Christ are simply in the world—physically present—but not of it, not part of its values (John 17:14-15). As believers, we should be set apart from the world. This is the meaning of being holy and living a holy, righteous life—to be set apart. We are not to engage in the sinful activities the world promotes, nor are we to retain the insipid, corrupt mind that the world creates. Rather, we are to conform ourselves, and our minds, to that of Jesus Christ (Romans 12:1-2). This is a daily activity and commitment.

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We must also understand that being in the world, but not of it, is necessary if we are to be a light to those who are in spiritual darkness. We are to live in such a way that those outside the faith see our good deeds and our manner and know that there is something “different” about us. Christians who make every effort to live, think and act like those who do not know Christ do Him a great disservice. Even the heathen knows that “by their fruits you shall know them,” and as Christians, we should exhibit the fruit of the Spirit within us.

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Being “in” the world also means we can enjoy the things of the world, such as the beautiful creation God has given us, but we are not to immerse ourselves in what the world values, nor are we to chase after worldly pleasures. Pleasure is no longer our calling in life, as it once was, but rather the worship of God.

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Recommended Resources: In, But Not Of: A Guide to Christian Ambition and the Desire to Influence the World by Hugh Hewitt and Logos Bible Software.

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Related Topics:

What does it mean that our citizenship is in heaven?

What does it mean that we live in a fallen world?

What does it mean that Christians are not of this world?

What does it mean that we are not to love the world?

What is New Monasticism?

Read more: http://www.gotquestions.org/in-but-not-of-world.html#ixzz3IUfzi8jq

Good Prayer to Renew Your Commitment Daily:

God, I offer myself to Thee-
To build with me
and to do with me as Thou wilt.
Relieve me of the bondage of self,
that I may better do Thy will.
Take away my difficulties,
that victory over them may bear witness
to those I would help of Thy Power,
Thy Love, and Thy Way of life.
May I do Thy will always!
Thank you, God, Amen!

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