What is a
Christian?
 
 
LOVE
OBEYS
 
If a man love me, he will keep my words

—Jesus Christ


"Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?

And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity."

—Jesus Christ


Apparently, many people actively engaged in Christian ministries —will be rejected. This is a very sobering wake-up call for all who consider themselves 'Christian'. But why will some be accepted and others rejected? What is the Lord's acceptance criteria? What is a Christian?

While the Bible is often regarded by Christians as the doctrinal basis governing the Christian life, very few Christians perceive its ulterior role as divine food in fueling spiritual transformation.

However, two main factors challenge the Bible's effectiveness in the daily life of today's Christian.

The most obvious impact is how sincere and well-meaning Christians unfortunately develop their theological understanding indirectly through intermediaries such as, so-called clergy. But this is in direct opposition to New Testament teaching which urges each believer to acquire skillfulness and mastery concerning the Word of God. The result is, most Protestants, Orthodox and Catholics lack the necessary doctrinal proficiency regarding what the Bible actually teaches. Consequently, they have no adequate safeguard against false prophets, false teaching or false teachers.

Secondly, rather than personally eating the Word as Moses (Deut. 8:3) and Christ (John 6:48-58) urged, today's worldly Christianity has not cultivated this practice of sowing the Seed (Word of God) deep within their heart. Therefore their spiritual growth is stunted, and their spiritual transformation is often retarded or halted altogether. The New Testament refers to these immature Christians as babes whose only understanding of Christ is as the Savior. They never progress in service to Him as the Lord actively reigning over their lives.

Christ's Highest Priorities for the Believer
When asked which was the greatest of all the commandments, Jesus provided the following answer:

"Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets." Matthew 22:37-40.

Loving God
How do we express our love to God? Jesus showed that our love is evident as obedience to God. This means that by God's grace, we become committed to serving righteousness. By submitting ourselves to Christ's teachings, by His grace we are sanctified, and over time transformed by the renewing of our mind.

Loving Our Neighbor

"Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungered and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger and ye took me in: Naked and ye clothed me: I was sick and ye visited me: I was in prison and ye came unto me." Matt. 25:34-36

"Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction and to keep himself unspotted from the world." James 1:27

"And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment and wounded him and departed, leaving him half dead.

And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him and passed by on the other side.

But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him and went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine and set him on his own beast and brought him to an inn and took care of him.

And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence and gave them to the host and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee.

Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves? And he said, He that showed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go and do thou likewise." Luke 10:30-37 

In the Parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus provided a wonderful example of the distinction between relationship vs. religion.

The good Samaritan was motivated purely by love and showed his compassion towards a stranger - his neighbor, instinctively. No analysis, no weighing of risks and options. The good Samaritan acted from an instinctive moral imperative: "What if it was I in that situation?…how would I want to be treated?

But the two religious professionals crossed the street - to avoid getting involved.

This is yet one more of the many comparisons that Jesus makes between relationship with God -and religion.

Bottom line, our salvation and sanctification by the Word is intended to produce a transformation in us that makes us love-oriented people…motivated by love and primed for helping those in need by:

  • Giving them food
  • Giving them water
  • Giving them shelter
  • Giving them clothing
  • Visiting them when they are sick
  • Visiting them when they are in prison
  • Visiting the fatherless and widows in their affliction
God is Love —and He Loves People
When we love people it indirectly shows our love for God. In fact, this linkage is so great that, as we perform community services for the needy, it is as if we did them directly for the Lord.

"Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:

For I was an hungered and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger and ye took me in:

Naked and ye clothed me: I was sick and ye visited me: I was in prison and ye came unto me.

Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered and fed thee? or thirsty and gave thee drink?

When saw we thee a stranger and took thee in? or naked and clothed thee?

Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison and came unto thee?

And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:

For I was an hungered and ye gave me no meat; I was thirsty and ye gave me no drink:

Matt. 25:43 I was a stranger and ye took me not in: naked and ye clothed me not: sick and in prison and ye visited me not.

Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison and did not minister unto thee?

Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.

And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal."

Matt. 25:34-46



Love is our highest purpose.

Try This Simple Test
If we began listing all the things that we appreciate about God and reasons why we loved Him on a sheet of paper, would it fill half of a page? A full page? Would we have to write on the back? Or, could we, like King David, fill an entire book with our adoration?

A Christian Serves Righteousness

"Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness." Rom. 6:18

But Love is Not Enough...

"Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am." John 13:13

Perhaps one of the first truths that needs to be realized after salvation is the duality of Christ's roles. God became a man - to save us -but that Man, Jesus, is God. Consider the continual appeals by Jesus in reminding the disciples of their duty to serve Him:

And why call ye me, Lord, Lord and do not the things which I say? Luke 6:46 

If ye love me, keep my commandments. John 14:15

He that hath my commandments and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father and I will love him and will manifest myself to him. John 14:21

Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him and we will come unto him and make our abode with him. John 14:23

He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father's which sent me. John 14:24

If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. John 15:10

Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. John 15:14

Evidence of Heavenly kinship —Obedience

"Then one said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak with thee. But he answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother? and who are my brethren? And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother and sister and mother." Matt. 12:47-50

Walk —Not Mere Talk

"But what think ye? A certain man had two sons; and he came to the first and said, Son, go work today in my vineyard. He answered and said, I will not: but afterward he repented and went.  And he came to the second and said likewise.  And he answered and said, I go, sir: and went not. Whether of them twain (two) did the will of his father? They say unto him, The first. Jesus saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you." Matt. 21:28-31

It is clear from these references that Christ's acceptance criteria is obedience. Our obedience is evidence of how much we love God. Our love shows how well we know Him. Our knowledge of Him shows how much effort we have devoted to learn about Him. How effective our Bible study is reflects the true condition of our heart.

And all this is done through grace.

SUMMARY

A Christian is one who is born-again and loves God and loves his neighbor. The evidence is reflected in his/her obedience to God's Word. To love and serve God properly, we first must get to know Him. And to get to know Him, we must devote some quality time in studying His Self-Revelation. To be taught by the Holy Spirit (1John 2:27), we need to get a new heart from God.

Recommendations:
1. Start by petitioning the Lord for a good heart:

"And I will give them one heart and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh and will give them an heart of flesh:" Ezekiel 11:19

Invite the Lord to work within your heart to get the obstacles out of the way, so you can serve Him better. The pure in heart see God.

2. Make a sincere effort to develop skillful competence in the Word of God.

"Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth." John 17:17

There are a lot of reasons why we need the Word. (The average Christian has probably spent more time studying eighth-grade algebra than in learning the basic teachings of Christ). Develop a schedule to get the Word daily and systematically (Genesis to Revelation - not skipping around). Use narrated *tapes, CDs or MP3s of the Bible if you have to -but get some quality time in the Word every day. (What's more important?)

*www.scourby.com, or look for Alexander Scourby's narrations of the Bible online (eBay.com, Amazon.com, dealoz.com, etc.)

3. Get to know the Lord - not just about Him. Knowing Christ as Savior is crucial, but so is knowing Him as LORD. Make yourself available to the Lord, in prayer and by faith. Let Him know that you really want to know Him - not just utilize Him like some cosmic Problem Solver.

4. Ask the Lord to let your love grow for Him. He will anoint your eyes so you can begin to see His unlimited attributes in nature - and in people. To know Him is truly - to love Him. And you will become more forgiving, more gracious and more loving as you get to know Him better.

5. Guard your heart from distractions. Allow that growing love to become your conviction -to serve righteousness -and not the sinful impulses of the flesh or pride. You will develop a sincere burden for the unsaved and it will be nearly impossible for you to ignore opportunities to help others.

A person such as this…motivated entirely by God's LOVE, is the standard that the Lord is leading us to. It is this type of obedient believer that provides the excellent building material needed for the Church, as we shall see in the next Section.


 
What is the Church?
 
Next
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Why Are Christians So Divided? 
The New Testament teachings address 3 dimensions of the believer's experience. These dimensions or aspects relate to:
  • Knowing Christ as SAVIOR
  • Knowing Christ as THE LORD
  • Knowing Christ as the HEAD OF THE CHURCH
To know Christ as the Savior is to be born again. Those believers who progress onward by eating His Word as Christ commanded (John 6:57), subsequently learn to voluntarily submit to Christ's sovereign rule over their lives.
 
This process of sanctification by consuming God's Word leads not only to skillfulness in His Word, but additionally cultivates an abiding love for God's Divine Truth. It also develops a desire to obey it. This is the hallmark of the yielded life, knowing Christ as THE LORD.
 
Those who are fortunate enough to be in a locality with other like-minded, progressing believers have the awesome opportunity to know Christ as the Head of the Church. This is a very powerful dimension in the Christian experience as in Acts 1-10.
 
The reason so many Protestants defy the Word of God with their apostate practices of division, clergy/laity organization, and worldly religious traditions (such as Christmas) is because they may be what the Bible describes as carnal Christians.
 
They are not devoting quality time eating God's Word. Instead, they develop religious concepts by listening to others' opinions about the Bible (2 Tim. 3:7).
 
But the Bible teaches that God Himself accepts full responsibility for educating His flock (John 6:45; 1 John 2:27). Nor is there is any acceptable substitute for the individual's eating of God's Word.
 
No one can eat a meal for you. Nor would it do any good to watch someone else eat their meal. As Jesus described in John 6, spiritual living is linked to spiritual eating.
 
The apostle Paul described carnal Christians as those who remain at the cross as mere babes in Christ - unable to handle strong meat. While they acknowledge Christ as their Savior, their life still bears the worldly mark of doing their own thing.
 

Home   ź   Part ONE: Crucial Questions   ź Part TWO: Innate Awareness - Universal?   ź Part THREE: A Rational Universe?   ź Part FOUR: Message From Beyond - Genuine?   ź Part FIVE: Grave Crisis?   ź Part SIX: Relationship or Religion?   ź Part SEVEN: The Bible vs. Worldly Christianity  ź Part EIGHT: The Creator's Strategic Plan   ź Science vs. Scientists  ź Surrogate Creator   ź Resources   ź Text References   ź Contact Us