WHO IS A TRUE CHRISTIAN (BY GOD’S DEFINITION)
WHO IS A TRUE CHRISTIAN (BY GOD’S DEFINITION)?
By: Norm Rasmussen
Founder, Precious Testimonies
We have so many people calling themselves Christians these days that it’s getting more and more difficult to understand what a Christian really is supposed to BE. Are you as confused as many others are about who is a true Christian and who isn’t?
Christians came into existence when they began to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ. To the people of their day, they preferred to be labeled more as disciples of Jesus Christ, though being a disciple (or follower) of Jesus Christ automatically classified one as being a Christian.
Some 2,000 years later after Jesus Christ resurrected from the grave, confusion reigns about who are the true Christians and who aren’t. Let’s delve into this confusion and see what we can learn:
If I attend a Christian church, does that make me a Christian? No.
If I was sprinkled as an infant, and dedicated to Jesus Christ, does that make me a Christian? No.
If I was baptized in water at an older age, does that make me a Christian? No.
If I read my Bible now and then, and pray every so often, does that make me a Christian? No.
If I become a member of a supposed acceptable “Christian” denomination or local “Church”, does that make me a Christian? No.
If I try to keep the 10 Commandments, surely THAT will make me a Christian, right? No.
Now let’s take a look at some “Yes’s”
If I say “the sinners prayer”, asking Jesus Christ to forgive me of all my sins, asking Him to be my Lord and Savior, does that make me a Christian? Very possibly YES … but that’s not the end of the matter.
If I confess Jesus Christ as Lord, and that He was raised back to life and ascended into glory on the third day and now sits on the right hand of the Father, does that make me a Christian? Very possibly YES … but that’s not the end of the matter.
If I truly believe that Jesus Christ paid full penalty for all my sins by dying on the cross, and I’m willing to give my life if need be for believing it, does that make me a true Christian? Very possibly YES … but that’s not the end of the matter.
If I truly believe that Jesus Christ paid full penalty for all my sins by dying on the cross, and I’m willing to give my life if need be for believing it, and I fully believe that Jesus Christ was fully God before He came to earth as a mere man, and is now fully God and will forever be fully God, along with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit, does that make me a true Christian? Very possibly YES … but that’s not the end of the matter.
If I truly believe that Jesus Christ paid full penalty for all my sins by dying on the cross (Past sins; present sins; sins I'll commit in the future) and I’m willing to give my life if need be for believing it, and I fully believe that Jesus Christ was and is and forever will be none LESS than God – being fully God – and I understand that now I have an obligation to show God my sincere desire to obey ALL the commands given to me in the New Testament Bible (not just picking and choosing those I like and those I don't) … and demonstrate to God just how sincere I am in obeying them, by diligently PRACTICING them – DOING them – OBEYING them – (though I may fall short at just how well I DO them at times, and thank God for His promise that there's mercy, forgiveness and complete restoration for) - does that make me a true Christian? YES.
And here's how I believe we can confidently come to that conclusion. There’s a Bible passage found in Matthew 7:21-24 that strongly indicates just how important it is for people to know the difference between true Christians (born again Christians) and those who think they are true Christians … but aren’t.
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.
“Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?
“And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness! ("Continue to practice sin without any degree of guilt that moves one to repentance [Repentance meaning CHANGE]; continue to practice engaging in teaching spiritual deception as though it is truth but isn't!" in other Bible translations).
“Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and DOES them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock …”
This above Bible passage clearly addresses three important areas obviously very important to Jesus Christ:
1) Doing the will of God the Father.
2) Obeying the commands of Jesus Christ.
3) Don't be guilty of "practicing lawlessness (sin; rebellion against truth)."
A logical question many would then have: “What constitutes doing the will of God the Father?”
From Matthew 7:24, would not a logical answer to this question be, “By obeying the commands of Jesus Christ?”
Another Bible passage would support this conclusion, it would so seem:
“If you love Me, keep my commandments.” – John 14:15
Yet let us wisely balance out all this by realizing that "doing" cannot save us, nor keep us saved. Believing is what saves us, and keeps us saved. Believing what? Believing that Jesus Christ paid full penalty for our sins: Past, present and future sins, and that God's pure, holy righteousness was imputed to us at the cross to make us fully justified (fully qualified for eternal salvation).
We are not saved by our attempted religious good works. "Good works" means we are not saved by trying to obtain forgiveness of sins and/or to attain to sinless perfection (righteousness; holiness) in this life, nor by any "religious activities". We are saved solely by the grace and mercy of God by our believing what God accomplished for us on the cross -- believing that Jesus paid full penalty for all our sins, and that God's righteousness was freely GIVEN to us ... without us trying to somehow EARN that righteousness.
Thus we are not saved by our good works, but saved to do good works. What would be at the top of "good works" God wants us doing? It comes full-circle. To obey His New Covenant commandments ... and I believe at the top of the very top of that list of "good works" is to make certain I am not deceived about spiritual truth, and passing it along indefinitely to others as though it is spiritual truth. If you haven't done so lately, read Matthew chapter 23, and be honest in the conclusions you come up with. Was it not the "religious" folks that Jesus was speaking of in Chapter 23 ... many of the very same "religious" bunch that were responsible for Jesus' crucifixion?
Every command Jesus and the Father has given us in the New Covenant (New Testament) to keep is GOOD for us to try to keep. What about the Old Covenant 10 commandments? Trying to keep the Old Covenant 10 commandments is also beneficial, BUT BE FULLY AWARE! Trying to keep the 10 commandments will NOT save you, nor KEEP you saved. And the truth is ... no human being ever has kept the 10 commandments, (other than Jesus Christ, of course). If it had been possible to secure ones eternal salvation (forgiveness, righteousness, justification) by the keeping of the 10 commandments (or 10 LAWS - exact same thing) ... there would have been no reason for Jesus Christ to die on the cross for our sins.
[Note: There are actually over 600 commandments God gave the Jews to try to keep. Click on the following link to learn about them if you are interested: http://www.raptureready.com/soap/baker21.html Here is a good video teaching on the topic as well: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bjDteNOsRRk&feature=related ]