Are you a Christian?
What is a Christian?
Christianity is an Abrahamic monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth.
It is the world's largest and most widespread religion with roughly 2.4 billion followers representing one-third of the global population.
The answer to the question “What is a Christian?” will vary greatly depending on whom you ask.
To some, it means you were born in a “Christian” nation, or you come from a “Christian” family.
To others, it means you believe in Jesus or the religion that is based on Jesus’ teachings.
Yet others use the word “Christian” to speak of a deep personal relationship between Jesus Christ and an individual.
Since the Bible is the authority for the Christian faith, let’s see what it says about the word “Christian.” The word is only used 3 times in the New Testament and each instance is referring to the first “Christians” of the early church.
Acts 11:26. So, for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.
Acts 26:28. Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?
1 Peter 4:16. However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.
They were called “Christians” because their behavior, activity, and speech were like Christ Jesus.
The word Christian means, “follower of Christ” or
“belonging to the party of Christ.”
I changed the page titles from
“You aren’t a Christian because..” To
“You aren’t going to Heaven because..”
The reason for this will become clearer as we get into the presentation.
As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. Good teacher, he asked, what must I do to inherit eternal life?
Why do you call me good? Jesus answered.
No one is good, except God alone.
Jesus was wanting to know on what basis this man was calling him good.
We live in a world today in which things and people that God’s Word says are evil, are called good.
Phycologists say that man is good, and most people you confront will agree that they are good, but Jesus said that we are evil!
Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.
Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!
To start with, I want to show from Scripture that despite the fact that God is love, He hates sin. In fact He died to set mankind free from it’s Penalty, Power and Presence, but man exercises his free will, and all too often and chooses to remain a slave to sin.
I received a video a week or so ago from someone in Australia where this lady was been spoken to as she was busy painting the LGBT rainbow on the steps leading up to their church and this was her take on the matter:
“God is love” and so people who are living lifestyles that the Bible condemns don’t have to worry.
In (Matthew 5:3, 10; Mark 10:14) Jesus explained who WILL inherit the kingdom
In 1 Cor 6 Paul tells us who WILL NOT inherit the kingdom.
Paul says that certain people will be EXCLUDED from the kingdom. They won’t go to heaven. If you want to know who is NOT going to Heaven, all you have to do is to look at this list.
Greek scholar A. T. Robertson calls this “a roll call of the damned.”
Some of these groups of people may be found on some church membership rolls but they will not be found in the Book of Life.
Some versions translate these words slightly different.
I Corinthians 6:9-10 (NKJV).
Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived.
Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.
There is a serious warning in this passage, and it is addressed to professing Christians. It is addressed to the Church at Corinth and the warning is this:
“Do not be deceived”.
Many think that they are going to heaven, but they are actually going to hell.
Ten Types of people Not in Heaven
1) Sexually Immoral
6) Thieves or Robbers
7) Greedy or Covetous
8) Drunkards (substance abusers)
9) Slanderers (verbal abusers)
10) Swindlers or Extortioners
One is a RELIGIOUS sin.
One is a VERBAL sin.
One is a FOOD sin.
Four are SEXUAL sins.
Almost half of the sins on the list are sexual (two of the sins deal with heterosexuals and two deal with homosexuals).
Paul mentions fornicators, adulterers, homosexuals, and sodomites.
One sin is a GENDER sin.
It mentions feminized men, men who act like women or try to become women.
Three are FINANCIAL sins.
The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.
However, let us look at some more subtle deceptions.
While the 2011 South African census did not include a question of religious affiliation, the majority of South Africans (84.2%) identified as Christian in a 2013 General Household Survey.
This represented an increase from 79.8% reported in the 2001 census.
Of the remaining population, 5% identified with ancestral or traditional African religions, 2% identified as Muslim, 1% identified as Hindu, and 0.2% identified as Jewish.
Atheism and agnosticism were identified by 0.2% of the population, while 5.5% identified with ‘nothing in particular’, and 1.6% did not specify.
So according to the most recent survey, 4 out of 5 people you meet in our country are Christians!
Do you think that is a true reflection of our South African society?
Or do you think that the term is used to loosely and the definition is too broad?
With that in mind, let us look at some definitions of what a Christian is.
A person who has received Christian baptism or is a believer in Christianity. (Oxford Dictionary)
One who professes belief in the teachings of Jesus. (Miriam Webster Dictionary)
A Christian is someone who believes in Jesus Christ and follows his teachings. (Christianity.org.uk)
Some have become so disillusioned with the liberal use of the word Christian that they have started using alternative phrases to describe what it is supposed to mean.
The following are just a few examples.
Followers of Jesus
Born Again Believers
What does it really mean to be a Christian? It seems to me that this term is used too loosely nowadays. Can you give me a brief, easily understandable definition?
The term “Christian,” as we understand it, refers to anyone, man, woman, or child, who trusts in Jesus Christ as his or her Savior and Lord and who strives to follow Him in every area of life.
As evangelicals, we place great stress on the importance of an individual’s personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
We believe that this relationship is lived out by way of prayer, study of God’s Word, fellowship with God’s people, and service to others in Jesus’ name.
There’s an important sense in which Christian faith has to be expressed in the context of community with other believers.
But in the final analysis, it’s an intensely personal and individual matter, not a question of church membership or doctrinal orientation.
The Bible backs us up in this regard: “Whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved”
(Romans 10:13; Joel 2:32).
That said, we should point out that Focus on the Family has always been on the side of what C. S. Lewis called Mere Christianity. Lewis used this term to refer to that body of core Christian truths which is common to believers from all kinds of church backgrounds.
In other words, we are not committed to a particular denominational understanding of what it means to be a “Christian.” We’re an interdenominational ministry, and we strive to remain faithful to the spirit of St. Augustine’s famous motto: (“In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity.”).
It’s worth adding that our definition of Christianity also takes serious account of the pronouncements of the historic councils of Nicaea and Chalcedon.
These councils formulated important theological definitions and made crucial statements about the Trinitarian nature of God and the “hypostatic union” of the human and the divine natures in Jesus Christ.
As we see it, these biblical principles are indispensable in gauging the true “Christianness” of any particular body of religious teachings.
To say this another way, we don’t necessarily believe that a “Christian” is simply anybody who claims to “believe in Jesus” and to “follow His teachings.”
If this were true, we would have to concede that the Gnostics, the Manicheans, the Arians, the Marcionites, the Docetists, and the first-century Judaizers were also faithful members of the fold.
This is something that the writers of the New Testament and the Fathers of the early church were clearly unwilling to do.
If you’re asking us to identify personal “attributes” or “characteristics” that distinguish a true Christian from a non-Christian, we would have to say that Christ’s own definition is still the best.
The “mark of the Christian” (as the late Dr. Francis Schaeffer called it) is love. Jesus said
“By this all will know that you are My disciples, “if you have love for one another” (John 13:35).
It’s also important, of course, to give some measure of credence to a person’s verbal confession of faith. But beyond this, it’s impossible to lay down hard-and-fast rules by which to distinguish the real disciples from the mere posers.
As Jesus indicated in the Parable of the Wheat and the Tares (Matthew 13), that is a question that God Himself will resolve on the Day of Judgment.
(1 Corinthians 4:5).“Therefore, judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts. Then each one’s praise will come from God”
Quite clearly in South Africa, from our census results, we can see that some people think that because they are not Muslim or Hindu then they must be Christian.
Be a Christian on purpose, not by default
When I was 26 years old, I gave my life to Christ. If you had asked me at any time prior to that point what I was from a religious perspective I would have said I was Christian. I wasn't Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, or anything else and my parents were Christian, so I figured I was, too.
My parents rooted for the Dallas Cowboys so... I rooted for the Dallas Cowboys.
My parents drove GM cars, so I drove GM cars.
My parents ate meatloaf on Thursdays, so I ate meatloaf on Thursdays.
My "Christian"-ness was simply an extension of choices my parents had made but I had no clue what it really meant to be a Christian. It was a label I had applied to myself by default. As a result, I knew almost nothing about my Savior or His Word.
It appears that I was not alone in that "Christian by default" mindset. A recent CNN article entitled “Actually, that's not in the Bible” makes the observation that Americans often quote "phantom bible passages" that really aren't part of Scripture:
"God works in mysterious ways.“
"Cleanliness is next to Godliness.“
"God helps those who help themselves.“
"Spare the rod, spoil the child."
None of these are actually quotes from the Bible. But people rarely challenge them because biblical ignorance is so pervasive
For the past 50 years numerous groups have bemoaned the Biblical illiteracy that has gripped Christians in America. In 2008 The Association for Biblical Research made this observation:
One of the most serious problems facing the Church in the 21st century is the problem of Biblical illiteracy.
Simply put, most professing Christians do not possess a sound and coherent understanding of the Bible, beginning with sound doctrine and general Biblical history. Evidence for this sad reality is quite overwhelming.
Theologian and author David Wells made this point in his book No Place for Truth:
"I have watched with growing disbelief as the evangelical church has cheerfully plunged into astounding theological illiteracy."
Sadly, this illiteracy only appears to be deepening. As more and more people adopt the "Christian by default" mindset their concept of being Christian does not extend much beyond showing up at church on Sunday morning
Many people don’t realize that God doesn’t have Grand Children, He only has Children. You are not a Christian because your Mom and Dad are Christians, you have to be born into His Family by making your own choice.
The Pharisees were very proud of their ancestral Jewish heritage, but Jesus made it quite clear that the faith and beliefs of our predecessors are not transferable by natural birth.
I am telling you what I have seen in the Father’s presence, and you are doing what you have heard from your father. Abraham is our father, they answered.
If you were Abraham’s children, said Jesus, then you would do what Abraham did. As it is, you are looking for a way to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. Abraham did not do such things. You are doing the works of your own father.
We are not illegitimate children, they protested. The only Father we have is God himself.
Jesus said to them, If God were your Father, you would love me, for I have come here from God. I have not come on my own; God sent me.
Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires.
He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.
Listen to John the Baptist and his rebuke to the Pharisees and Sadducees.
But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them:
You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not think you can say to yourselves, We have Abraham as our father.
I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham.
The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire
Household salvation is the idea that whole families or households are saved at once. The saving of the entire family is accomplished through the faith of the leader of the family. If the father or the head of the home declares himself to be a Christian, then he presides over a Christian household, the members of his family are Christian by default, based on the decision of their father/husband.
According to the concept of household salvation, God saves the entire family unit, not just the individual expressing faith. A proper understanding of the Bible’s teaching on household salvation must begin with knowing what the Bible teaches about salvation in general.
We know that there is only one way of salvation, and that is through faith in Jesus Christ (Matthew 7:13-14; John 6:67-68; 14:6; Acts 4:12; Ephesians 2:8).
We also know that the command to believe is directed to individuals and the act of believing is a personal action. Thus, salvation can only come to an individual who personally believes in Christ.
Believing in Christ is not something that a father can do for a son or daughter. The fact that one member of a family or household believes does not guarantee that the rest will also believe.
Jesus Himself indicates that the gospel often divides families.
Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.
These words completely undermine the concept of household salvation.
But someone will say, You have faith; I have deeds. Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. You believe that there is one God.
Good! Even the demons believe that and shudder. You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless
I tell you the truth, corrupt tax collectors and prostitutes will get into the Kingdom of God before you do.
For John the Baptist came and showed you the right way to live, but you didn’t believe him, while tax collectors and prostitutes did. And even when you saw this happening, you refused to believe him and repent of your sins.
And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others.
The Pharisee in Luke 18 prayed and his prayed was not heard.
Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus:
God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.
Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices, mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law, justice, mercy and faithfulness.
You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.
Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.
Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.
So, when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others
Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.
But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret.
Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
There are many philanthropists and secular and religious organizations that give to the poor.
But I warn you unless your righteousness is better than the righteousness of the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven!
You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.
2 Timothy 3:5-7.
having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people….. always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth.
I earned a Masters in Divinity through Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary. The only reason I did it was because a hospital chaplain suggested that I would be a good replacement for him since he was taking another position out of state. He had seen me volunteer at the hospital for a number of years and we got to know each other.
He knew I wasn't a believer in any god, but he also knew that being a chaplain was often less about religion and more about helping someone through a crisis. My wife had become a believer because of my mother. I attended church with her on a regular basis before she died unexpectedly at only 53.
I was even the youth pastor for the boys in the church and did regular outings with them. And yet I still could never believe that there was a magic genie in the sky who would Grant my wish if only I gripped my hands together hard enough.
Going to church for years didn't make me a Christian. Working with the youth of the church didn't make me a Christian. Being a decent person didn't make me a Christian.
But I guarantee that if you compare my life against a whole lot of people who call themselves Christians, you would bet good money that I was the only Christian among them.
I will wager that most of the people who sit in churches Sunday after Sunday aren't Christians even though they identify as such. It's just something that they have always done and most believe it will get them through the pearly Gates of heaven, even if they haven't done a single other thing in the name of their Saviour.
How do I know? Because I have heard the argument from numerous people. Time and Time again, as a chaplain sitting with people nearing the end of their lives, I heard,
“I went to church every Sunday, so I know I'll be in heaven when I die.”
Herod feared John and protected him, knowing him to be a righteous and holy man. When Herod heard John, he was greatly puzzled; yet he liked to listen to him.
Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to. Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading, Sir, open the door for us.
But he will answer, I don’t know you or where you come from. Then you will say, We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets. But he will reply, I don’t know you or where you come from. Away from me, all you evildoers!
Someone cannot decide on Baptism for you, and even if you choose to be Baptised it means nothing if you are not Born Again (Baptised into The Body of Christ)
Another incorrect definition is that a certain level of piety makes someone a Christian.
The conversion of Cornelius proves this to be false, because although Cornelius was “a devout man and one who feared God with all his household, who gave alms generously to the people, and prayed to God always” (Acts 10:2), he was not saved.
He had to hear the gospel to be saved. Peter explained:
“And he told us how he had seen an angel standing in his house, who said to him, 'Send men to Joppa, and call for Simon whose surname is Peter, who will tell you words by which you and all your household will be saved'” (Acts 11:13, 14).
Not everyone who says to me, Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.
Many will say to me on that day, Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and, in your name, perform many miracles? Then I will tell them plainly, I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!
One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us! But the other criminal rebuked him. Don’t you fear God, he said, since you are under the same sentence?
We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong. Then he said, Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom. Jesus answered him, Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.
Do you realize that you are a sinner?
Do you take responsibility for your sin and accept God’s offer of repentance?
Do you realize who Jesus is?
Do you confess your faith in Him openly?
What it means to be a Christian, at least according to culture, has changed over the years. Many people think that going to church occasionally or simply believing in God makes them a Christian.
But the Bible presents a different perspective and definition of a Christian.
A Christian is someone whose behaviour and heart reflects Jesus Christ.
Followers of Jesus were first called “Christians” in Antioch.
So, for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.
They were called "Christians" because their speech and behaviour were like Christ.