This may seem like an obvious question, but what exactly is a Christian?
Let me say up front that simply going to church does not make you a Christian. I think it was Joyce Meyer who said that sitting in church won’t make you a Christian any more than sitting in a garage will make you a car!
I’m deeply concerned about those who attend church each week, and yet are not really Christians. I do not want them to mistake church attendance for salvation and relationship with God. I do not want them to stand before God one day and find out – too late – that being a Christian is not about going to a particular building on a Sunday morning.
Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter into the Kingdom of Heaven; but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.22 Many will tell me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in your name, in your name cast out demons, and in your name do many mighty works?’ 23 Then I will tell them, ‘I never knew you. Depart from me, you who work iniquity.’
Matthew 7:21-22 (WEB)
Before I answer the question, I am not saying that church attendance is somehow bad. Far from it! In fact, it is necessary for all Christians to engage in regular fellowship with other believers. I am simply pointing out that our salvation is not based on our attendance record.
Being a Christian has nothing to do with where you were born either. Years ago, if you were born in the UK, then you might consider yourself a Christian because you lived in a “Christian country.” Sadly I do not think you can describe the UK this way any longer. Despite that, simply being born in a particular place also does not make you a Christian.
You are not a Christian because your parents were, or because your grandmother was. Neither are you a Christian because you were “christened” or baptised as a baby. Again, I am not saying that baptism is unimportant, but just that baptism does not equal salvation.
So what is a Christian then?
A Christian is a follower of Christ – someone who not just believes that Jesus existed, but someone who has given their life to Jesus as both Lord and Saviour.
A Christian puts God first in their life. A Christian takes the Bible seriously. A Christian obeys the teachings of God, and a Christian is known by their fruit. This last part means that you do not identify Christians by their clothing, a fish on their car or a cross around their neck; rather, you identify a Christian by the contents of their life.
I can call myself a Christian, but if I act like the devil, then my actions speak louder than my words. That’s not to say that a Christian is 100% perfect the whole time, as we are imperfect and make many mistakes. However, we cannot claim to be Christians without some evidence that the truth of Christianity has impacted our lives.
James, in his letter, said this:
You believe that God is one. You do well. The demons also believe, and shudder.
James 2:19 (WEB)
Putting this in my own words; “You believe in God? Good for you – so does the devil! And he trembles!”
James makes the stark point that believing in God is not enough – not nearly enough. Even the devil and all the demons of hell “believe” in God. They even “shudder” at the thought of God. It is sad that this is more than many people do today.
I am stunned at the hubris of those who not only deny God, but blatantly mock Him. It is one thing to reject God, but quite another to poke fun at Him. This extreme irreverence is deeply worrying.
Many claim to believe in God, but few actually do something about it.
I’m paraphrasing CS Lewis who said that God is either the most important thing, or not important at all. The one thing He cannot be is moderately important.
If you believe that God exists, and yet do nothing to serve Him or find out what He wants you to do with your life, then surely you are acting foolishly. At least one who hates God is clear where they stand, but how does one respond to someone who says they believe in an Almighty God, and yet makes not one single ounce of effort to know Him. Strange indeed!
So let me ask you – do you believe in God? Great – so then what are you going to do about it?
Are you a Christian? Could we recognise that from the contents of your life? Are you “producing fruit in keeping with repentance?” (Matthew 3:8)
By their fruits you will know them. Do you gather grapes from thorns, or figs from thistles? 17 Even so, every good tree produces good fruit; but the corrupt tree produces evil fruit. 18 A good tree can’t produce evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree produce good fruit.
Matthew 7:16-18 (WEB)
A Christian believes that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came and lived on this Earth. He died and was buried, and then on the third day He rose again to life. He suffered a terrible death on a cross to make payment for the sin that separated us from God.
We become Christians when we ask Jesus to come into our lives as Lord and Saviour. He is our Saviour because HE is the one who has rescued us from the punishment of sin and death.
He is our Lord also. That means we put Him in charge of our lives. We no longer rule in our lives, but He does. We defer to His judgement, His will and His way of doing things.
Do not let anyone tell you that the Christian life is an easy one. It will mean putting yourself to one side, and keeping God at the centre. That takes faith and courage, but is absolutely worth it.
None of us know how many chances we will get to make a decision for Christ. All I know is that life is short, and that Jesus promised to return one day soon. We must make a choice for Him before that time.
It only takes a moment to ask God to forgive you, to ask Jesus to come into your life and to receive the Holy Spirit as your Helper and Friend. Don’t put it off – I urge you! What else is more important? If God really is God, then ask Him in right now!
If you do, feel free to contact me as I would love to hear from you.