WHO IS A CHRISTIAN?
WHO IS A CHRISTIAN?
Now, there is a good question! Unfortunately, few have given serious thought to it. Most people claim that when one has “accepted Jesus Christ,” then he or she is a Christian. While that sounds good at first, in reality it just plays with pretty words (i.e., “accepted Jesus Christ”), while ignoring what it takes to become and remain a Christian. So, let us dig below such surface rhetoric, and give this question some serious thought.
Are we to conclude that anyone who merely CLAIMS to be a Christian IS such? Further, must we RECEIVE as a Christian everyone who claims to be one? Such a notion is patently foolish; and no one lives by such a rule! Most who claim to be Christians will draw a line somewhere to distinguish themselves from others who also claim to be Christians. Indeed, the very reason such distinctions are made is because it is believed that these “others” are doing things which are not in harmony with God’s word. For instance, most Protestant groups will distinguish themselves from Catholics, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, and/or Seventh Day Adventists. But here’s the rub: the members of each of these groups ALSO claim to have “accepted Jesus Christ.” So let us abandon this hypocritical assertion that we should receive as Christians anyone who claims to have “accepted Jesus Christ.” I say again: NO ONE DOES THAT; nor will the Scriptures sanction such a lawless approach (1Jn.1:6; 2:4; 2Jn.9-11).
The real issue, therefore, is: “Where do we draw the line between those who ARE, and those who ARE NOT, genuine Christians?” Or, more accurately, “Where does GOD draw the line?” The only way to know the answer to that question is to search the Scriptures (Ac.17:11). So, who is a Christian – according to God?
Let us try to start with common ground. I have no problem with the words “accepted Jesus Christ,” per se. So let us proceed with these words as a basis of agreement, and work from there. Let us ask, “WHO has accepted Jesus Christ?” Or, “HOW does one accept Jesus Christ?” Well, in Matthew 7:21, Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to me 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.” Luke's account says, “But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do the things which I say?” (Lk.6:46). It should be obvious that only those who OBEY the Lord should be regarded as having truly “accepted” Him. That is where I try to draw the line. Therefore, I do not regard those who live in disobedience as Christians, regardless of where they meet – even if they meet with a church of Christ! Is this not a reasonable basis from which to work? It honors God, and His word, above all else – even human ties. Now let us make some practical application of this principle…
One who refuses to repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins CANNOT rightly be called a Christian, for he has NOT “accepted (obeyed) Jesus Christ” (Ac.2:38; Lk.6:46). This does not necessarily make him the equivalent of the Devil himself, nor even irreligious; it simply means that he is still in his sins. Further, one who has been Scripturally baptized, yet “walks (lives) disorderly” is NOT a faithful Christian (2Th.3:6-15). If I am wrong about this, then someone please show from the Scriptures how one can refuse to obey the Lord, and yet go to heaven (cf. 2Th.1:7-9; Hb.5:8-9; Rv.22:14-15).
You need not tell me that this is not the commonly accepted view among professing Christians. I am well-aware of the modern, “politically correct” approach (i.e., don’t offend anyone). But I still believe that a careful consideration of all the Biblical data forces us to the conclusions of the previous two paragraphs. It will take much courage, and a strong faith to be able to handle all of the implications of these truths; and few have that kind of dedication.
I also realize that many will no doubt say that I’m “narrow-minded.” But even the Bible says that the way which leads to life is narrow (Mt.7:13-14) – and I want to be just as narrow-minded as Jesus! In the final analysis, I just want to go to heaven, and take as many of you with me as possible. That is why I would rather risk making you mad at me than to see you lose your soul! Please consider my words in light of the Scriptures.