What Is A Christian?
A common misunderstanding people have is the idea that a person is a Christian merely because of location; they were born into a Christian family, they live in a “Christian nation” or it’s the only faith they’ve ever known or even heard about. In some cases, people identify themselves as Christian because of their parents’ choices – maybe Mom and Dad had them dedicated in a church or their denomination holds to the practice of infant baptism and they were sprinkled so long ago they don’t even remember.
Unfortunately, none of these gets you into the Kingdom of Heaven. Remember the concept of sin nature and the analogy of a new automobile under development? We are all born with this nature, because whether you recognize it as “sin” or not, we all have an innate desire to do things contrary to what God wants. The idea of “grandfathering” may keep you a member of a social club that your parents joined, but it doesn’t work spiritually. And while we are in this state, still doing on a regular basis what is against God’s Desire and Will, we cannot be with Him:
Surely the arm of the LORD is not too short to save, nor His ear too dull to hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear. (Isaiah 59: 1, 2)
Curiously, denialism frequently occurs in confronting the idea of sin. At one end of the spectrum, people can accept that whatever their particular manifestation of sin happens to be is in fact sin, but avoid dealing with the problem by claiming there is nothing that can be done about it. Others embrace their manifestation, denying it as sin, or as a problem at all. Some even go to the extreme and claim vice as a virtue, that God “made them this way.”
There are numerous definitions of sin out there, but usually all of them boil down to some deliberate, conscious action or series of actions on our part that violates, contradicts or defies the Commandments or Will of God. Usually, a prohibition by God against a particular action is done out of a desire by Him to protect us from the effects of the same. At best, those effects keep us from experiencing the best God has to offer a person; at worst, the effects are destructive to body, mind and/or soul. We are told that the wages of sin is death in Romans 6:23, and ultimately this leads to eternal separation from God and ultimate punishment in the Lake of Fire – spoken of by Jesus frequently throughout the Gospels and which shows up again toward the end of the Book of Revelation. Don’t believe in Hell? Think it’s a metaphor? Okay then, let’s deal with this life. Most of the things God through Scripture tells us to avoid are quite destructive to our bodies.
The opinion of our culture to the contrary, a person may feel regretful or remorseful for something he or she has done in the past, or a lifestyle lived, that the person is moved to stop doing it and/or do something to atone for the act or life lived. A thief may become remorseful for stealing something, return the item to its rightful owner and (regardless of whether or not the thief is processed by the justice system for the crime) resolve never to steal again. The same thing can happen to a person who habitually has been committing any kind of sin and wants to stop. Agreeing with God that what that person has been doing is wrong and consciously turning away from it is called repentance; it is the first step in making any change.
At this point, you may be asking about alternatives. Isn’t there some other way to take care of this? This is the question that often is asked by people who reject Jesus not because they don’t think they need help, but the idea of simple surrender to Him hurts their pride. And the answer is, not with any effect. This is the old argument that all religions essentially lead to the same destination, which is God. A quick read of their tenets and documents proves the fallacy of that argument. Some religions have a number of gods; exactly which one are you referring to? Others require a number of practices that the person must do in order to be made right with God; often these practices are contradictory. Which practice is the effective one? How much needs to be done to reach the desired state? Can you even be certain?
Jesus made some startling claims – that He was God’s Son (Matthew 26:4, among numerous others) and that He was the only way to God the Father (John 14:6). The miracles He did were offered as proof of His Divinity. And He said that there was only one thing anyone could do; believe what He said about Himself (John 6:29). A person is a believer because that person believes; the person has heard the message of the Gospel and consciously acted to accept it and apply it to his or her life, voluntarily – and I cannot stress that word strongly enough – surrendering control to Jesus. That person agrees with Jesus’ teachings to the point of resolving to live by them and doing whatever He wishes, not being saved by doing good things but being saved in order to do good things. Some would say this is not fair of God to open only one way to Himself. Think about this a minute; God knows the fix we are in (created not by Himself, I might add, but ourselves), and offers a way out of it for us that permits our reunion with Him and yet satisfies the demands of His own Holiness. How is this not fair?
This is the offer that God makes to you. Your spirit is designed by God to live forever; the idea was for you to live physically forever, but sin stopped that from happening (Genesis 3:22, 23). Your spirit, however, retains its immortality. You have a choice, not only in where your spirit will live for eternity, but how you live in the here and now.
Meanwhile, there is a God Who exists and Who loves you beyond what you can imagine. He wants you to live with Him forever, both in this life and beyond. He doesn’t want to see you in eternal punishment and He is grieved to see us struggling on our own in this life. By sending His Son to live a sinless life and be the final, ultimate sacrifice for our sins, He has made a way for your sins to be dealt with and punished, yet keep you from destruction in the process. As a result, we can have fellowship with God the Father again, and He can transform our lives into something that not only gives Him glory and honor, but satisfies you beyond what you can even imagine.
So, how do you get this? The Apostle Paul, in his letter to the Church at Rome, said:
That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. (Romans 10: 9)
If you truly believe that Jesus is the Son of God, His Divinity confirmed by God the Father restoring Him to life again after His death on the cross, and state that belief out loud to other people, then the transplant procedure has taken place, your sins have been cleansed by the Blood of Jesus, your place in Heaven is secured, you are restored to fellowship with God the Father and are a part of the Body of Christ.
If you want to get in on this, then you can do it right now, reading this page, wherever you are. You can pray to God and believe that He hears what you are saying (because He does). I offer you the following as a guide for you to pray; you can put it in your own words if you wish, but the important thing is that you speak – out loud – to God from your heart in all honesty with Him:
Lord Jesus Christ, I ask You now to please come into my life. I believe that You are the Son of God, that You died to pay for my sins and were raised from the dead by God the Father. I accept You now as my Savior and as my Lord; please forgive my sins and give me a new heart to live for You and I will serve You all the days of my life. Please do this now, I pray, in Your Name, Amen.
If you prayed that and meant it, then God says you are a New Creation in Him (refer to 2 Corinthians 5:17). but you’ll probably know that in your own heart without having to be reminded. Welcome you to the Body of Christ, and congratulations on the best decision you will ever have made! Please contact us if you have so that we can give you some help and direction in your new walk with Jesus. In the meantime, tell someone what you've done, get a Bible and start reading. God Bless You in your new life!