How Real Are You?

A Look at Todd Wilson’s book, Real Christian

The thesis of Todd Wilson’s book, Real Christian: Bearing the Marks of Authentic Faith is right there in the title: if one’s faith is real (authentic), then there will be marks (evidence) in their life. Wilson tells his readers something they already intrinsically know: Jesus wants real follows that are sold-out, on-fire, and completely committed to Him. Anything less is not pleasing to the Lord nor is it conducive to successful disciple-making. In an increasingly fake world with disingenuous leaders spreading plastic ideologies, there has never been a more relevant time than now for this sort of battle cry.

I was reminded of the chorus in Daniel Bashta’s song, “I Want It All (Just Give Me Jesus)”

Give me the real thing

Not just religion

Stir up my passion

With more of conviction

I want it all

Not just a portion

Give me Your presence

Not just some feeling

At the end of each chapter, Wilson includes resources such as, “Questions for reflection,” “Scripture to ponder,” and “Book to help you dig deeper.” One of the suggested books is Kyle Idleman’s not a fan. It is my opinion that Wilson’s Real Christian and Idleman’s not a fan should be sold together and considered required reading for any Christian longing to grow in the knowledge of the will of God. Absolutely required.

Titus 1:15-16 talks about those who profess to know God, but by their deeds, deny Him. If someone was drinking a huge sugary cola and smoking a big, fat cigar while he gave you health and fitness advice, would you take him seriously? Of course not, you would say, “Why would I listen to you? Who are you to tell me anything about health?” Now, if a fit person does the same thing, you may be more inclined to at least listen to them. They must know what they are talking about because their very physique is a testament. They must be doing what they are saying. The world knows a phony when they see one. If your actions do not match up with what you say, they will cry, “Foul!” and use the unbeliever’s favorite term for Christians: hypocrite.

Francis of Assisi is attributed with the famous quote,” Preach the Gospel, and if necessary, use words.” Today we would say, “Talk the talk and walk the walk.” In Matt. 7:16, Jesus tells us, “by their fruits you will recognize them.” What is on the inside will be revealed by what is on the outside. The easiest way to know if a cherry tree is a cherry tree is if it has cherries on it. This concept is so simple that even a child can understand it.

Evaluating my life and assessing where I fall short of reaching these marks of maturity is a humbling exercise. Repeatedly (and sadly with such ease) I am quick to get angry. I can exchange sarcastic jabs with the best of them. It shames me how instinctively cruel I can be if I think I have been slighted. I am overly-sensitive, thin-skinned, and un-teachable more often than I care to admit. Pride rears its ugly head in my life far too frequently. Thankfully, God’s mercies are made new every morning (Lam. 3:23). We are all works in progress and God is still working on my progress.


Idleman, Kyle. Not a Fan: Becoming a Completely Committed Follower of Jesus. Grand Rapids, MI: Thomas Nelson Publishing, 2011.

Wilson, Todd. Real Christian: Bearing the Marks of Authentic Faith. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2014.

Submitted to Liberty University Baptist Theological Seminary in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the completion of the course DSMN 520: Spiritual Formation.

40 Observations about Romans 8

40 Observations about Romans 8:

1. The chapter heading is, “Deliverance from Bondage.” This suggests that we were once in bondage, but Jesus delivers us from that bondage.

2. If we are in Christ, we are no longer condemned. The world doesn’t have the authority to condemn. We do not have the authority to condemn others. Only Christ has that authority and He does not condemn those who have accepted Him as Savior.

3. We are set free from the law of sin and death. We are no longer under the law, but Grace and the Spirit of life.

4. The law could never accomplish what Jesus can accomplish, because it is based on the flesh.

5. God sent His Son in the likeness of sinful flesh. God could have sent Jesus down in His heavenly glory, instead, He purposely met us where we are and how we are: of sinful flesh.

6. Jesus’s purpose was to be an offering for sin. Sin must be accounted for. God is holy and therefore, any trespasses must be paid in full. Jesus is the only one able to meet these trespasses fully and then some.

7. If you want life, set your mind to those things of the Spirit. If you continue to set your mind to those things of the flesh, you are continuing in death.

8. Whenever Jesus is mentioned, it is always about life, renewal, and love. It is never about death and hate.

9. Setting your mind on the flesh or the spirit is a choice. It is up to us to decide how we orient our thoughts.

10. (verse 7) “The flesh is hostile towards God.” I never thought of it in those direct terms, but it is so true.

11. If you continue in the flesh, you “cannot please God.” There is no wiggle-room here or any other way to interpret it. You cannot please God. Pretty cut and dry.

12. In order to belong to Christ, we must allow Him access to our hearts and life.

13. We must die to self. The body is already dead because of sin. Righteousness of His spirit is the only true life.

14. Verse 11 lets us know that it was the Holy Spirit that raised Jesus from the grave.

15. Verse 11 also lets us know that that same Spirit lives inside us!

16. Therefore, (verse 11) informs us that we have life inside our mortal bodies through the work of the Holy Spirit.

17. Paul uses the word, “obligation.” We are under obligation to live according to the Spirit (verse 12) since we have died to Him and He lives inside us.

18. The only way to truly live, is to die to the flesh. Sounds contradicting, but it is true: to live, we must first die… to self.

19. Paul says we “must” die (verse13). There are no if’s, and’s, or but’s about it: We must die.

20. If we are led by the Spirit, we are sons of God.

21. Again, it is a choice to be led. To have someone lead me is acknowledge their authority over me. I have to surrender to their direction and guidance.

22. If we are “sons of God (verse14),” then we have all the rights of a son. We share those rights with Jesus. We are more than servants, we are part of the household!

23. Our spirit is not one of slavery, but victory.

24. Verse 15 assumes that all without the Holy Spirit are living in fear. The Spirit brings us out of this fear forever.

25. The Holy Spirit uses the phrase “Abba!” This term actually means, “Daddy.” How intimate. This is the same term my 2 year old daughter uses for me. It is not the formal: Father. It is much more tender.

26. We are heirs with Christ and share in His inheritance.

27. We are no longer rebels, but partakers of God’s blessings.

28. If we are sons and daughters, then we need to start acting like it. Far too often, we act like we are still under slavery.

29. Verse 17 says that we will suffer. It is part of it. There is no ducking this part. Don’t be confused by suffering or surprised by suffering: It is coming.

30. If Christ suffered, how can we expect not to suffer? If the world hated Jesus, how can we expect the world not to hate us as well?

31. However, just as Christ is glorified, so will we be too because we are hidden in Him. As He is, so are we in God’s eyes.

32. The second section of Romans 8 is titled, “Our Victory in Christ.” Once again, even though suffer has been thoroughly explained and predicted, we are reminded that ultimately, Victory is experience in Christ.

33. We don’t know how to pray so the Holy Spirit intercedes for us. My prayers, far too often, are selfish. Even if it doesn’t directly involve me, it probably involves my family, my church, or my life in some way.

34. The Holy Spirit sifts through our hearts and minds and intercedes according to the will of God. Thank God for that!

35. Verse 28 is quoted all the time… at least the first part. “All things work for good,” but the second part is “for those who love God and are called to His purpose.” There is  more to it than, everything will work out! There must be love there and there must be a surrender to His purpose!

36. God calls people and then justifies them and then glorifies them. If God has called you, He has a plan and it is to bring Him glory in some form or another even if we cannot see it or understand it.

37. Verse 31, if we have God on our side, there is no one or nothing that can stand in our way.

38. God “freely” gives all things. He is liberal with His giving. It is free. There is no way we could pay for it anyways.

39. God freely gives “all things.” He doesn’t hold back. There is nothing that He would not give us according to His will.

40. Jesus sits at the right hand of God. That is a place of power. Also, one sits when one is finished with their work. Jesus sits now, because His work is completely finished. There is nothing more for Him to do.


What Romans 8 reveals about how/what we should believe about God:

God has set us free from the bonds of slavery. He liberates us from ourselves. He then allows us (former slaves) to come into His house and eat and live with His Son. More than that, He adopts us and allows us to have all the rights of sonship. It is truly a rags-to-riches story when one surrenders their life to Jesus.

What Romans 8 reveals about how/what we should believe about the Holy Spirit:

The Holy Spirit is vital to the believer. He searches our hearts and says the things we are unable to say as He intercedes on our behalf. The Holy Spirit replaces our fleshly spirit with the righteous of God and replaces death with life. Without Him, we would be living with a spirit of the flesh (and therefore, death) and also, unable to pray “the way we should.”


Lessons learned from meditating on Romans 8:

God gives blessings far and exceeding what any person could ever imagine. He takes miserable, rebellious slaves and makes them family. He freely gives all things to those who surrender to Him.

The Holy Spirit exchanges our faulty prayer life for one that is effective and according to God’s will. He replaces our fleshly spirit of death with one of life.

Jesus share His sonship with us. He sits at the right hand of God because He has the authority to do so and because His work is done!

Romans 8 is just jam-packed with amazing truths. It is a tremendous chapter. I think I will do my best to memorize it. I already have a lot of the verse memorized actually, but not in order like it is. These are famous verses, if you will. It would be beneficial to commit them to memory in order and precisely as it is written.

Submitted to Liberty University Baptist Theological Seminary in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the completion of the course DSMN 520: Spiritual Formation.