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So, you're a Christian.... What does that mean?
by Jerry Blount

Act 11:26 And when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. So it was that for a whole year they assembled with the church and taught a great many people. And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.

Today we live in a world where almost anything seems to be defined as Christian or in the name of Christ. Most in our society still identify themselves as Christian… most also don’t worship God with any regularity.
Most politicians claim to be Christians… That being said, why are we are not the least bit surprised when one of them lies or has an extra marital fling. How can this be?

The Bible uses the term in only 3 places Acts 11:26, 26:28, and I Peter 4:16. At it’s simplest level it means a follower of Christ. What does it mean when you call yourself a Christian, a follower of Christ?

1. You must believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God.

Believing, or even receiving Jesus is not the same as “being” a Christian… but it is a necessary part of the equation. In other words you can believe Jesus is the Son of God and even receive his Word as true and still not be a Christian.

Joh 1:10 He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him.
Joh 1:11 He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him.
Joh 1:12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name:
Joh 1:13 who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

Look closely at verse 12... believing in and receiving Jesus gives you the right to become a child of God. Many seem to believe that believing and receiving Jesus is far as we go. Jesus has done it all and nothing more is required of you. John obviously didn’t believe this… for the record neither did Jesus. Note one of the most famous mandates in the history of the world!

Mar 16:15 And He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.
Mar 16:16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.

Ok… you must believe and receive Him as your savior but what more?

2. Today many wish to be “secret” Christians. They wish to be quiet about it. Jesus just won’t accept that. There is militancy about true Christianity and Jesus will accept no less.

Mat 10:32 "Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven.
Mat 10:33 But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven.
Mat 10:34 "Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword.

A Christian has an inner peace, but in truly taking on the name of Jesus and declaring that to the world… The Christian joins a war that has been raging with the kingdom of darkness since the dawn of the human race. The darkness does not let go gracefully! Satan will throw everything he has at you to drag you back down to his level.

1Jn 1:4 And these things we write to you that your joy may be full.
1Jn 1:5 This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.
1Jn 1:6 If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.
1Jn 1:7 But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.

So, I must believe in Jesus as the Son of God. I must declare that to the world and take my place beside Him in the struggle of righteousness. What more?

3. Christianity means making a change of life.

Jesus refers to this in a number of ways but one of them is described as repentance. If you are the same guy after becoming a Christian as you were before… you missed out on something! Are you living your life the same way now as you would have if you had never taken on the name of Jesus? Jesus said…. “I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” Luke 13:3

It is important for Christians to remind themselves of where they have been, or would have been without Jesus. It helps us all appreciate what we have and what we are now striving for.

Eph 2:11 Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh—who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands—
Eph 2:12 that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.

There is no hope without Jesus, and Jesus says there is no hope without repentance.

This is a total change in direction. This change begins before we are saved and continues after we are saved. Like the new birth, it is a long running part of the Christian way of life.

1Jn 2:3 Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments.
1Jn 2:4 He who says, "I know Him," and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.
1Jn 2:5 But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him.
1Jn 2:6 He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.
1Jn 2:7 Brethren, I write no new commandment to you, but an old commandment which you have had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which you heard from the beginning.

Christianity is a way of life… The Christian labors toward righteousness. This causes us to catch a lot of flack nowadays. A homosexual recently sued a Bible publisher because the Bible caused him emotional distress!

Repentance, the new birth, a newness of life (all Biblical descriptions) is an essential element of Christianity. If Jesus hasn’t changed you… you haven’t changed!

1Jn 3:3 And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.
1Jn 3:4 Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness.

Jesus asks what was supposed to be a rhetorical question. In our day it seems to be a debated question. Luke 6: 46. "Why do you call Me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say?”

I recently had a discussion with a religious leader of our community. He made the comment, “I know the Bible teaches that, but I just don’t buy it.” What is really mind boggling is that an entire congregation knows what he believes and follows him anyway. It is almost as if they don’t believe that this value system won’t infect their children at the deepest levels. This same leader told another, “Our relationship with each other is more important than the truth.” Ultimately what he was saying without meaning to was, “our relationship with each other is more important than our relationship with God!”

How many people do you know that claim to be Christians that (deep down) believe this way but would never say it out loud?

When people begin to pick and choose what they want from Christianity… what they have found isn’t a new way of life.

They have followed that old politician, we know from the garden of Eden… “you shall not die, for God knows that….” This serpent has done business with all of us. “They” replace substance with hype. “They” replace knowledge with ignorance… often a desire not to know.

You “vote” by what you choose as your direction/guide in life!

Jesus said…

Joh 8:31 Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, "If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed.
Joh 8:32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."

Truth is not all that difficult to find… but you have to want it to keep it. Note that Jesus’ focus was whether or not you would “continue.” Who do we love more, God or man? That is the choice that all of us must ultimately make.

Ok… so we must believe, confess and repent (meaning it and living it). Anything more?

4. You must be baptized… for the forgiveness of your sins.

Rom 6:3 Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?
Rom 6:4 Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
Rom 6:5 For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection,

Compare Paul’s comment above to Jesus’ great commission

Mar 16:15 And He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.
Mar 16:16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.

Obviously, according to the Apostle Paul, this is when and how we crossover from a state of spiritual death to having the gift of eternal life. Much of the New Testament is dealing with how to keep this gift of life… but it is here that we get it.

Peter’s assessment?

Act 2:37 Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Men and brethren, what shall we do?"
Act 2:38 Then Peter said to them, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Notice that Peter doesn’t mention faith here… they had faith. They needed forgiveness. To receive forgiveness they needed to take the plunge! Turn away from sin (repentance) and be buried for the forgiveness of sins.

1Pe 3:21 There is also an antitype which now saves us—baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,
1Pe 3:22 who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, angels and authorities and powers having been made subject to Him.

The Bible really is consistent on all this. Man becomes inconsistent. We may fail… the Bible is the Word of God. It is trustworthy. What is a Christian? Would you rather let your local politicians define Christianity… or Jesus?

The answer should be obvious.