Beware: It is Easy to Fake Christianity

By Francis Frangipane

Our experience of Christianity must go beyond just being another interpretation of the Bible; it must expand until our faith in Jesus and our love for Him becomes a lightning rod for His presence.


Prove All Things
"But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good" (1 Thess. 5:21). Would you buy a car without driving it? Would you purchase a house sight unseen? Of course not! Yet, many of us accept various "plans of salvation" that do not really save us from the distresses of hell. In spite of the fact that Jesus came to give us abundant life, we remain sinful and selfish. A car may look nice, but if it will not drive across town we should not trust it to take us across the country.

Likewise, if our Christianity does not work in this life where we can test it, it is foolhardy to hope it will successfully transport us into eternity where, if we fail the test, we suffer eternal separation from God.

I do not wish to imply, however, that unless we get every doctrine right and every interpretation perfect we will be refused entrance into heaven. Christianity is more a matter of the heart than the head; it is a maturing of love more than knowledge. The test of truth is not an intellectual pursuit but whether you are drawing closer, week by week, to knowing and loving Jesus Christ.

At the same time, we should not be afraid to test what we believe. Paul says, "Test yourselves . . . examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you—unless indeed you fail the test?" (2 Cor. 13:5).

The power and person of Jesus Christ is in us; to believe in Him is to progressively become like Him. As it is written, "as He is, so also are we in this world" (1 John 4:17). However, if we have been indoctrinated to believe that the kingdom of God, and Christianity itself, does not really have to work, or if the absence of holiness and power fails to trouble us, something is seriously wrong with our concept of truth.

We should seek answers to three very important questions. First: is my faith effective? Do not gloss over that question. Honestly ask yourself if your prayers are being answered and if your life is becoming godly.

Second: if my doctrines do not work, then why not? Perhaps your theology is fine but you are lazy. Perhaps you need to turn off the television set and dedicate that time to seek the Lord instead. Or maybe you are very earnest but you have been taught wrong. Either way, you must seek to find out why things are not working for you.

And third: if I do see the fruit and power of the Holy Spirit revealed in another's life, how did he (or she) receive such grace from God? Do not be afraid to sit as a disciple under the anointing of another's ministry. The Word tells us, "He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet's reward" (Matt. 10:41). God gives "rewards" of impartation, knowledge and other spiritual gifts to His servants. Learn from those whose faith is working.

The final test of any set of doctrines is seen in the kind of life they produce. As it is written, "By this we know that we are in Him: the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked" (1 John 2:5-6). Continual, persistent walking with Christ will produce a life like Christ's. We will walk even as He did walk with holiness and power.

The fact is, however, that if the "god" of some of our Christian religions died, most members of those churches would be either too spiritually dead or too physically busy to notice his absence. All too often, Christians accept teachings "by faith"---not faith in the Living God but faith that their church doctrines are correct. We unconsciously hope that whoever is teaching us has not made a mistake.

Jesus said, "See to it no one misleads you" (Matt. 24:4). Remaining free from deception is a responsibility each of us must assume as individuals. Without becoming suspicious or mistrusting, in humility let us re-examine what we have been taught. The virtue of any teaching is in its ability to either equip you to do God's will or empower you to find God's heart. If either objective is missing, that teaching will be of lesser value.

The Power of a Godly Life
This lesson is not addressed to "bad people" or sinners; it is for all of us "good people" who have thought being nice was of the same essence as knowing the truth. It is not. We can thank our parents that we are nice, but to know the truth, we must seek God and be willing to obey Him.

Five times in Matthew 24, Jesus warned against deception in the last days (vv. 4, 5, 11, 23–24, 26). If we are not at least somewhat troubled by those warnings, it is only because we are guarding our ignorance with arrogance, presuming that our thoughts must be right simply because we think them. There are areas in all of our lives that need to be corrected. And unless we can be corrected, unless we are seeking God for an unfolding revelation of His Son, our so-called "faith" may be, in reality, just a lazy indifference, a deception concerning the things of God. Subconsciously, we may actually want a dead religion so we do not have to change.

Yes, we should accept many things by faith. But faith is not blindly sticking our hand out to be led by another blind man. It is not an excuse to justify impotent doctrines. True faith is freighted with the power of God.

The Power in Holiness
"This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be . . . having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof" (2 Tim. 3:1–5 KJV). Holiness is powerful. Have you ever met a truly holy man or woman? There is a power in their godliness. If, however, one has never known a Christlike soul, it becomes very easy to fake Christianity. Remember this always: being false is natural to the human heart; it is with much effort that we become true. Unless we are reaching for spiritual maturity, our immaturity shapes our perceptions of God. We point to the Almighty and say, "He stopped requiring godliness," when in reality, we have compromised the standards of His kingdom. Know for certain that the moment we stop obeying God, we start faking Christianity.

And as we mature, we begin to realize that the Spirit of Christ is actually within us. The cross emerges off the printed page, it stands upright before us, confronting us with our own Gethsemanes, our own Golgothas—but also our own resurrections through which we ascend spiritually into the true presence of the Lord.

With Paul we say,

I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me.    ---Galatians 2:20


Do not let yourself be misled! Place upon your theology the demand that it work---your eternal salvation depends upon it! If Christ is within us, we should be living holy, powerful lives. No excuses. If we are not holy or if there is not the power of godliness in our lives, let us not blame God. As it is written, "Let God be found true, though every man be found a liar" (Rom. 3:4). Let us persevere in seeking God until we find Him, until we discover "what [we are] still lacking" (Matt. 19:20). Let us press on until we "lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus" (Phil. 3:12).

How long should we continue to seek Him? If we spent all our lives and all our energies for three minutes of genuine Christlikeness, we would have spent our lives well. We will say like Simeon of old, "Now Lord, You are releasing Your bond-servant to depart in peace, according to Your word; for my eyes have seen Your salvation" (Luke 2:29–30). We do not want to just give mental assent to Christian doctrine; we want to see, have contact with and live in the experienced reality of Christ's actual presence. The moment we settle for anything less, we begin faking Christianity.


Adapted from Francis Frangipane's book, "Holiness, Truth and the Presence of God" available at www.arrowbookstore.com.

Holiness Precedes Power

By Francis Frangipane

Many Christians look for shortcuts to the power of God. To try shortcuts is to become, at best, frustrated; at worst, a false teacher or prophet. Listen very carefully: there is tremendous power for us in God but not without holiness. Holiness precedes power.

When John Saw Jesus
Then Jesus arrived from Galilee at the Jordan coming to John, to be baptized by him. But John tried to prevent Him, saying, "I have need to be baptized by You, and do You come to me?" But Jesus answering said to him, "Permit it at this time; for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness." Then he permitted Him. After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and lighting on Him, and behold, a voice out of the heavens said, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased."   ---Matthew 3:13-17

Let us understand this prophet, John the Baptist. According to the Scriptures, John was filled with the Holy Spirit "while yet in his mother's womb" (Luke 1:15). We are also told his coming was in the spirit and power of Elijah. Historians tell us that John's penetrating, uncompromising ministry led nearly one million people to repentance. Vast multitudes left their cities and towns and went into the wilderness to hear the prophet and be baptized into repentance in preparation for the kingdom of God.

Only Jesus knew the fallen condition of the human heart more perfectly than John. No class of people escaped the Baptist's judgment: soldiers and kings, sinners and religious leaders alike were all brought into the "valley of decision." John's baptism was more than a simple immersion in water. He required a public confession of sins as well as the bringing forth of righteousness (Matt. 3:6, 8).

Jesus testified that John was "more than a prophet." He said, among those born of women, "there has not arisen anyone greater than John" (Matt. 11:9-11). John was a "seer prophet," which meant he had open vision into the spirit realm. He testified that "I have seen the Spirit descending as a dove out of heaven" (John 1:32). He saw "the wrath to come" (Matt. 3:7). He witnessed "the kingdom of heaven" (v. 2). John had insight into the secrets of men's hearts. His vision penetrated the veneer of the well-respected Pharisees; within their souls he saw a "brood of vipers." Understand this about prophets: they are aware of things that are hidden from other men.

But when Jesus came to be baptized, before the heavens opened and the Holy Spirit descended, John saw something that was overwhelming even to his standard of righteousness. He gazed Jesus' heart, and he saw no sins, no lies, no lusts. John saw a level of holiness that, without knowing he was gazing at the Messiah, caused him to utter with astonishment, "I have need to be baptized by You" (v. 14).

Jesus, as the "Lamb of God" (John 1:36), was without spot or blemish. This is exactly what the prophet beheld in Jesus: spotless purity of heart. Christ's virtue took John's breath away! The powerful emanation of Christ's inner purity made John immediately aware of his own need. When John saw Jesus, he discovered a level of righteousness that was higher, purer than his own. This great prophet looked into the heart of Jesus, and in the brightness of Christ's holiness he cried, "I have need."

And so it is with us. Each time we see Jesus, each successive revelation of Christ's purity makes our need more apparent. As Christ's holiness unfolds before us, we cannot but echo the same cry of John the Baptist: "I have need to be baptized by You!"

Yet, in the beginning of our walk, we embraced life in our own strength, trusting in our own skills for success and attainment. Yes, we turned to God, but mainly in times of grief or trial. However, as the Lord brings us into maturity, what we once considered strengths are actually discovered to be weaknesses. Our pride and self-confidence keep us from God's help; the clamor of our many ideas and desires drown the whisper of the still small voice of God. Indeed, in God's eyes, the best of human successes are still "wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked" (Rev. 3:17).

In time, we discover that all true strength, all true effectiveness---yes, our very holiness itself---begins with discovering our need. We grow weaker, less confident in our abilities. As the outer shell of self-righteousness crumbles, Jesus Himself becomes God's answer to every man who cries for holiness and power in his walk.

We may think we have spiritual gifts, we may presume we are holy, we may rejoice with human successes, but until we see Christ and abandon our reliance upon our self-righteousness, all we will ever have, at best, is religion.

Oh, let us grasp this truth with both hands; let it never slip from us. Jesus Himself is our source of holiness! We are so eager to do something for Him---anything, as long as we do not have to change inside. God does not need what we can do; He wants what we are. He wants to make us a holy people. Let us not be anxious in this process. Allow Him to do the deep inner work of preparation. Jesus lived thirty years of sinless purity before He did one work of power! His goal was not to do some great work but to please the Father with a holy life.

Hear me; our goal, likewise, is not to become powerful but to become holy with Christ's presence. God promises to empower that which He first makes holy. Do you want your Christianity to work? Then seek Jesus Himself as your source and standard of holiness. Do you want to see the power of God in your life? Then seek to know Christ's purity of heart. If we are becoming the people Jesus calls His own, we should be growing in holiness. A mature Christian will be both holy and powerful, but holiness will precede power.


Adapted from Francis Frangipane's book, "Holiness, Truth and the Presence of God" available at www.arrowbookstore.com.

A Heart Without Idols

By Francis Frangipane

When we first come to Jesus, He accepts us just as we are: problems, sins and all. As our needs are met, however, we gradually discover that God is seeking something from our lives. What He seeks is our worship. But true worship is the consequence, the result, of seeing God as He is. It springs naturally from a soul purified by love; it rises like incense from a heart without idols.

The God Whose Name is Jealous
Christ does not personally destroy the idols of sin and self within us. Rather, He points to them and tells us to destroy them. This message is about repentance. If you withdraw from the sound of that word, it is because you need a fresh cleansing of your soul. In fact, we are talking about a type of repentance that is uncommon to those who only seek forgiveness but not change. We are speaking of deep repentance---a vigilant, contrite attitude that refuses to allow sin or self to become an idol in our hearts.