Dear Beachside Family and Friends,
What defines a Christian? Is a Christian one who is born in a Christian home, lives in a Christian nation, or attends church? Are individuals Christians because they do good deeds, pray, or act and dress in certain ways? If someone professes to be a Christian, what does that mean?
The many ways I just mentioned that people use to declare themselves Christian are all external. It's popular these days for sports fans to buy and wear the jersey of their favorite player. Some people put on the official NFL jersey of Patriot's quarterback Tom Brady every week, but if they look like Tom Brady on the outside, does that make them Tom Brady? Of course not! In the same way, it is possible to wear the external trappings of Christianity, but does that make one a Christian?
Being a Christian is dependent upon answering one question. What will I do about Jesus? The Bible calls Jesus "the Christ" The word Christian actually means "little Christ". If I am a Christian, then I must be a Christ-ian. By definition then, a Christian is one who has a relationship with Jesus, the Christ. As Jesus himself said "I am the Way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father but by me" (John 14:6) When Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews, came to Jesus to inquire about a eternal life, Jesus told him "you must be born again". (John 3:1-3) Jesus explained that a relationship with God begins with an internal change. That change takes place when a person asks Jesus to come into their heart and be their Lord. Only that decision can make a man, woman, or child a Christ-ian.
It is possible to wear a Christian T-shirt, and not be a Christian. If a change has not taken place on the inside, no amount of church attendance can make a person Christian. Additionally, giving to benevolent organizations and being a good person cannot make a person Christian. When an individual makes Jesus their Lord, that makes them a Christian.
The Bible tells us in the first chapter of John's Gospel that Jesus is the Living Word of God. If Jesus lives in us, then the Word is living in us. A Christian will have a desire to know the Word (the Bible) and to live by it. Jesus addressed this when he said in Luke 6:46 “So why do you keep calling me ‘Lord, Lord!’ when you don’t do what I say?" My conviction is this: a Christian is one who chooses to believe and do what Jesus says. Some who call themselves Christians find ways to excuse and promote immoral lifestyles because they say that Jesus did not personally address these issues. The fallacy of this argument is exposed in Jesus statement "Don’t misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose." (Matt 5:17) As the Living Word, Jesus agreed with, believed, and taught everything in the Old Testament to be completely and absolutely true. He is THE WORD, and everything that is in the Bible was spoken and breathed by Him. Christians do not deny the authority of the Word of God in social and political issues, only unbelievers do. Christians do not support abortion on demand, homosexuality, adultery, lying or the redefinition of marriage. Only unbelievers do.
So what defines a Christian? A Christian is one who first makes Jesus their Lord, and then submits completely to the authority of the Bible, the DIVINELY INSPIRED WRITTEN WORD OF GOD. I ask myself this question: Am I a Christian? Are you? Something to think about!