When you look at someone, can you tell they are a Christian? If you can, there are a few reasons why: (1) Pride…yours for God knows and weighs the heart; (2) Their life and spirit show Jesus; (3) is there a 3rd one?
In the Scriptures, we are cautioned to not assume that a person is right with God. Abraham made that mistake and almost caused a man to commit adultery who was innocent. Abraham assumed Abimelech did not fear God. Abraham may have been right when it came to the surface. However, Abimelech listened to God.
As a tradition, Christians have taken affirmations of faith at face value, for the very reason that we do not know the heart. Paul does note in 1 Corinthians 12:3, that no one can say that Jesus is Lord without it being of the Holy Spirit. However, in Romans 10:9, Paul also says that we are only saved if we believe in our hearts. One is an outward statement, and the Holy Spirit goes before all. The other is an inward statement that can only be between a person and God.
There is a lot of finger-pointing in the world, and some of it involves avowed Christians (i.e., people who say they are Christians and/or follow Jesus Christ) pointing at other avowed Christians, and accusing them of apostasy (i.e., false teaching and/or walking away from the faith) or not being Christian. If we take the Scriptures seriously, then accusing another of not being a Christian because they don’t agree with us on certain issues (especially non-salvation issues) is not in line with what the Scriptures say becomes a very dangerous road to walk.
1) Have you ever accused (whether out loud or in your mind) another person of not being a Christian, when they state they are one?
2) What are some good ways to engage other Christians regarding important topics on which we disagree?
3) When should disagreements be brought up, and when should they be left alone?