I’m going to try to write this as gently as I can. This topic is something I have been heated up about since I was 13 years old. It’s a topic that we very easily can discuss with finger-pointing at everyone else, except ourselves. I want to write this bearing myself in mind, and being open to falling short.
Another clarification I am going to put right at the beginning has to deal with godly living because I’m positive this is going to come up. Godly living is a fruit that comes from salvation, godly living does not give us salvation. Godly living is a process as we grow our relationship with Jesus Christ, something all believers should desire to grow in. A new believer should not be expected to have the maturity of a Christian who has been devoted for 30 years. See this post for my clarification between legalism and godly living.
There are many people today who call themselves Christian, but they are not. There are many false believers who have never picked up their Bibles. There are many struggling who do not know why they believe. These are struggles every Christian faces. A daily walk with the Lord, growing in the Spirit, and walking in His truth.
Ask yourself why you believe you are a Christian, and then look at this list of what doesn’t make us a Christian. I’m sharing this list not to point fingers, but to show how easy it is for us to have assurance in the WRONG things!
- Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian.
- Believing that there is a God doesn’t make you a Christian.
- Believing that Jesus existed doesn’t make you a Christian.
- Living morally right doesn’t make you a Christian.
- Preaching scripture doesn’t make you a Christian.
- Listening to worship music and Christian music doesn’t make you a Christian.
- Reading Christian books does not make you a Christian.
- Writing Christian books does not make you a Christian.
- Watching Christian movies does not make you a Christian.
- Reading devotionals does not make you a Christian.
- Reading the Bible does not make you a Christian.
- Discussing Christian topics does not make you a Christian.
- Having a Christian blog does not make you a Christian.
- Speaking in tongues does not make you a Christian.
- Leading someone else to Jesus does not make you a Christian. (This is still a work.)
- Praying does not make you a Christian.
- Fasting does not make you a Christian.
- Not cursing does not make you a Christian.
- Being a “good person” does not make you a Christian.
- Thinking you have faith does not make you a Christian.
Yes, Christians can definitely do these things on this list, but false believers can, too. In fact, people of other religions could do most of these things, if not all, of these things, too. Ever heard of Christian Wiccans? False believers who believe they can believe in Wicca and still be considered a true follower of Jesus Christ. We cannot mix beliefs. We cannot have any other gods we follow. God warns us against worshipping nature. (Exodus 20:03, Deuteronomy 32:21, Romans 1:22-23, 1 Corinthians 6:09)
Being a Christian includes that one reads the Bible, worships, prays, and many other things, too. But these things do not MAKE us a Christian.
Becoming a follower of Jesus Christ is just that. It’s all about Jesus. To truly follow Jesus means:
- You recognize you are a sinner and you need Jesus!
- You accept Him as a teacher and leader.
- You believe in what He taught and agree with it.
- You believe in His ways, believe His ways are the only way for mankind, and you yourself desire to follow those same ways (love the Lord your God with all your mind, all your heart, all your soul, and with all your strength). His way of living, teaching, etc. It doesn’t mean you will be perfect, but you strive to love Him in all ways, and seek forgiveness when you fall.
- You desire for others to know of Him because what you have received from Jesus no one can take away from you, and you want others to know what you have found and believe in Him.
- You believe He died for your sins because God loves us.
- You believe Jesus is the Savior, the Messiah.
- You believe Jesus is God. (One of the Three Persons of the Trinity)
- You believe God rose Him from the dead and conquered death so that we might also be conquerors through Jesus.
- You confess your sins to Jesus and believe He will forgive you.
- You REPENT of your sins. Jesus gives us the strength and endurance to turn away from the desires of the flesh. Jesus taught us to repent and not commit sin. That doesn’t mean we won’t struggle with sin, please understand. But there is a strong conviction there, and we no longer desire to sin. Will we have to repent repeatedly, for some things, most likely! Who struggles with judgmental thinking? The point is we do not desire it, it hurts us, and we desire forgiveness and repentance. Just because His grace is sufficient does not mean we enjoy sinning!
This is what distinguishes living godly and living legalistically. People can live morally for the wrong reasons. We are human, and we will struggle to give our all to God all the time. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. But in Jesus, there is a great love and desire for Him and that intimacy with Him continues to grow. Our convictions grow, and we don’t want the things of the world we used to enjoy.
Jesus is the One who died on the cross. Jesus is the One who forgives our sins. Jesus is the One who transforms us inwardly that produces a very outward fruit that others can see. Most of this list has nothing to do with our own actions but believing in Jesus. We are told we must believe, having faith, in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.
Becoming A Christian:
- Belief in the virgin birth, He is without sin. (Matthew 1:23, Hebrews 4:15)
- Belief in Jesus as God (Lord) and Savior, as detailed above. (John 20:28, Thomas declares Jesus as Lord and God.)
- Belief His death is the atonement for our sins and there is nothing we can do to save ourselves. (Romans 3:25, 09-10)
- Belief He forgives sins. (Matthew 9:06)
- Belief God sent Christ because He loves us. (John 3:16)
- Belief in a physical resurrection. (Luke 24:39, 1 John 1:01)
- We act upon what we believe in because we honestly believe it to be 100% true and we love Jesus! (see details above)
- For deeper discussion check out my post | How To Receive Salvation, Not The Sinner’s Prayer
As a follower:
- You confess Jesus as Lord (as God) to others. You speak of His teachings to others, encouraging them of His truth. (Matthew 10:33, Luke 9:26, Mark 8:38, Romans 1:16)
- You desire learning and understanding, seeking sound teachers to help instruct.
- You continue growing and getting rid of fleshly things (sin) through the transformation of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 13:14, Galatians 5:24, 5:16, Colossians 3:05, 2 Timothy 2:22, 1 Peter 2:11)
- You continue to grow in knowledge, understanding, and faith. (Psalm 111:10, Colossians 2:07, 1 Thessalonians 3:12, 1 John 3:14)
- You will become better at discernment between good and evil and rightly dividing scripture. This helps you understand false teachings. This is through the Holy Spirit working in us, reading and studying God’s word, drawing closer to Him, etc. Basically, growing in our relationship with Jesus! (2 Timothy 2:15)
- You will be able to give a proper account to questions about Christianity (this is where Apologetics comes in greatly and why every Christian needs to know why they are a believer).
EXAMPLE: Consider to learn and know how to answer these questions so you can point others to Jesus!
- Why does God allow wickedness?
- How is Jesus, as the Savior, referenced multiple times in the Old Testament?
- Why God, Who is loving, had His Son die on a cross? – This will be covered in a few weeks on the blog.
- Why does it seem that scripture contradicts itself?
We NEED to be able to answer these questions that fallen believers. false believers, and the world struggle with. These are NOT new questions. We have had the answers for centuries!
Please Note: No one can grasp or have all the answers at once. That’s okay!!! But our walk with Jesus is a relationship and we are to grow in Him and His truth. Whenever people question the Christian Faith or wonder about God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit these are opportunities to learn! 🙂
Many people have “claimed” to be a Christian for years, decades even, and rarely if ever, pick up their Bible. They do not have a proper understanding of scripture. They do not have a basic understanding of questions about Christianity, and therefore, many fall away from the faith because they never actually understood why they “believed” in the first place. THIS IS A PROBLEM!
If we only believe we are a Christian because of one scripture (John 3:16) and one sinner’s prayer, and have NO foundation, which is exactly Who Jesus is (the Rock)… we have a blind and empty faith. We rely on what little we know, hold to our actions that make us “Christian” and think that’s enough. NO WONDER SO MANY STRUGGLE AND FALL AWAY!
Why Having Answers To Christian Apolgetic Questions Is Important
Dear Christian, this is why WE NEED TO KNOW BASIC UNDERSTANDING AND HAVE ANSWERS TO WHY WE BELIEVE!!! Many fall because the believers around them do not have proper answers to their questions. Questions are a good thing! We are instructed to test and question all things! We must have an answer!
This is why people who say the “sinner’s prayer” often do not become true Christians because they don’t really know who Jesus is, why we need Him, and they don’t understand who God is and they are not truly convicted of their sin, either.
Listen, my friend, becoming a Christian is not something to think over lightly.
Christianity out of every religion WANTS YOU TO QUESTION IT! The truth of Jesus Christ has resisted time. It has stood against people trying to tear it down. It has historical truth! It has historical evidence! HISTORY & THE WORLD PROVE CHRISTIANITY TO BE TRUE! It is not mere belief in the unknown.
Christianity does NOT want you to merely accept it without understanding and believing it to be true. Why? Because you have to TRULY believe in order for Jesus to save you. If you don’t truly believe in Him but have a watered-down, lukewarm, trust emotion, feel-good faith, then you do not know Jesus as well as you proclaim, and you do not know the scriptures as much as you need to in order to truly understand. Again, you do not have to have all of the answers and knowledge immediately, but you need basic questions answered for yourself.
Christianity is often referred to as a relationship because knowing Jesus often does not happen overnight. It is not just a one-time choice. It truly is a walk with Jesus. It is a relationship because as much as we grow the only reason we do is because of Him. There is something incredibly supernatural about walking with Jesus.
I used to be such an ignorant Christian. I didn’t have a proper basic understanding that not only helped me understand deeper why I believe but WHY JESUS NEEDED TO COME DOWN AS A SAVIOR! HOW HIS HAND IS IN EVERYTHING!
My friend, when you know the truth, it’s incredible. It’s supernatural. It’s an anchor. It’s steadfast. When you don’t know the truth, you’ll just be tossed around like waves in an ocean.
Community Prayer for July 2020
Monthly Scripture – (NKJ) Psalm 85:08, “I will hear what God the Lord will speak, for He will speak peace to His people and to His saints; but let them not turn back to folly.”
Second Blog: Peeking Beneath