What is a Christian - By Pastor Hetherington
As you talk to various people in the world you will no doubt soon discover that they have differing ideas regarding as what a Christian actually is. Some people say, "I do good things and I go to Church. I was christened, or I was baptised, or I was confirmed, so that must mean that I am a Christian" Others will say "I am a Christian because my parents were, and after all, I live in a Christian country, I am not a Jew or a Muslim or a Buddhist, and so that makes me a Christian"
However God fearing, Bible believing Christians will contend from the Word of God that absolutely none of these things above can make anyone a Christian. The good news is that God Himself, defines for us in His Word what a Christian is. There are many passages in God's Word that give us a clear understanding of this vital subject.
A summary of those passages would contain at least these five aspects below:-
1. A Christian is someone who believes that the whole Bible is the infallible and inerrant Word of God, and that He alone is Holy.
2. A Christian is someone who has recognised that he or she has broken all of God's perfect Law. That person therefore realises that without God's provision of Saving mercy in Christ Jesus they would be everlastingly separated from God and heaven, and consigned to Hell forever.
3. A Christian is someone who acknowledges that only through the Lord Jesus Christ’s sinless life and substitutionary death can he or she be reconciled to and forgiven by God who being just and holy must punish every sin. Therefore in true repentance, they have cast themselves upon the mercy of God which is in Jesus Christ, and have submitted to God as their Lord and Saviour.
4. A Christian is someone who has truly felt a deep conviction of sin and has repented to God of their sin. Moreover they realise that they of themselves can not by their own strength and ability please God.
5. A Christian is someone who has been "born again" see John 3:3 by the Holy Spirit of God. Who has given them a new nature and new desires. He or she now genuinely desires to please God, and by God's help and grace that person strives to live a life pleasing to God as in accordance with His Holy Word.
If we were to get to the heart of most other religions or "belief systems" in the world, the common teachings of all those religions is that man is trying to earn favour or a righteousness with "their so called god" thus they are seeking to redeem themselves from guilt and sin in some way or form, either by ritual or act or sacrifice.
However the plain truth of the Word of God is man that man is totally spiritually and morally depraved see (Romans 8:7) and (John 6:44-45) and thus separated from God, and can not reach up and earn favour or "pay" or "make right" for his past, present, or future sins.
A Christian is a Christian simply because, God has already reached down in mercy, firstly, through the death of His only Son , and secondly God has brought them to a conviction and sorrow of their sin and granted faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
God tells us in the Bible that we are all by nature sinful and that we stand condemned and helplessly separated from Him. The "seemingly" smallest sin we have committed demands from the One and Only altogether pure and Holy God - His judgment and everlasting wrath.
The Bible tells us that our most righteous acts are as filthy rags before an all knowing and Holy God. In short all men are by nature sinners, separated and condemned before Almighty God.
Romans 3:23 says "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" Romans 6:23 says "the wages of sin is death"
In Isaiah 59:2 God says "But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that He will not hear."
Hebrews 9:27 "And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation"
God can not "overlook" sin because if He did, He would cease to be a JUST and a Holy God.
Yet He is also Sovereign, and in that nature of His Sovereignty He has so decreed to save His people. We may ask "Do not all people really deserve to be saved" The answer of course is no one deserves to be saved and neither do they want to obey God, because people by nature only want to live as they please.
But God saves His people not because there is or was, anything good, worthy or commendable in them at all, but rather because of His great mercy toward them, He died for their sins and comes to change their hearts forever.
The Bible says "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners" and that He "came to call sinners to repentance".
In other words He did not come to save those that "suppose" that they are "righteous" because indeed there are none. We may ask "how can God in justice punish the sin of such people and yet pardon them in love and mercy?"
The Bible makes this matter abundantly clear from beginning to the end and especially in:-
Romans 5:8-10 says "But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.".
The answer therefore is in the death of a perfect man, the God Man, His only Begotten Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Who lived a sinless life, He lived the life that His people should have lived and died in their place on the cross. Therefore He bore the sin of many and not all, see Isaiah 53:10-12 and Hebrews 9:28
In short nothing else, no other faith, no other religion, no other religious act or ritual can save any person from the wrath of God concerning their own personal sin but the Lord Jesus Christ. The Word of God in Acts 4:12 says “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.”
The Lord Jesus Christ said In John 14:6 " Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me."
Some 700 years before Jesus Christ came to die and pay the penalty for the sins of those who would believe and put their trust in Him, the prophet Isaiah in the Old Testament was moved by God's Holy Spirit to write and Prophesy these words concerning Christ's coming, and the result of His substitute death for His people.
Isaiah 53:10-11 says “Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him; He hath put Him to grief: when thou shalt make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in His hand. He shall see of the travail of His soul, and shall be satisfied: by His knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for He shall bear their iniquities.”
Many details of the Lord Jesus Christ's death are foretold in the Old Testament, hundreds of years before His crucifixion in the New Testament. The Lord Jesus Christ is referred to in Revelation 13:8 as "the Lamb that was slain before the foundation of the world".
Mental assent to these truths is one thing, but the Bible teaches that true belief will always be characterised by a truly repentant heart and a changed person. The Lord Jesus Christ said "But why do you call Me Lord and do not do as I say"
The Bible clearly teaches that we must individually repent and believe and follow the Lord Jesus Christ as both Lord and Saviour. As Saviour we believe that He is the only way to God, heaven and eternal life. As Lord His Word must have absolute authority over our lives.
John 1:12 says "But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His Name" Romans 10:9 says "That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved." This is entirely the work and gift of God as Ephesians 2:8 says "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:"
So what should we do?
The Lord God says in Isaiah 55:6 "Seek ye the LORD while He may be found, call ye upon Him while He is near"
But what If we do nothing? Doing nothing will evidence the fact that Christ never died for our sins and God's wrath soon come upon us.
John 3:36 says "He that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him ”
Dear friend, having read the word of God now, do not give your soul rest; but truly pray and repent of your sins and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. Genuine repentance and faith, is always marked by trust and obedience to His Word.
Pray daily, find a good Bible preaching Church, attend every Sunday, glorify God in your life now and grow thereby.
Moreover please feel free to contact us by telephone, write to us or email us from the contacts page, we would be greatly encouraged to be able to point you to the Saviour.
In the work of the Lord Jesus Christ
Pastor Chalan Hetherington