Today, many different people with many different beliefs are grouped into one category and called Christians. Society says that Catholics, Mormons, Baptists, and practically anyone who says they believe in Christ are Christians. However, just saying you believe in Christ doesn’t make you a true Christian. Nor are all those listed above Christians. In the Bible in James 2:19 it says. “You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder.” In other words, just believing isn’t enough to show we are really His, because even the demons believe in God. So, what does make someone a Christian?
A Christian is more than just a believer, a Christian is one who is a follower of Christ and committed to being obedient to Christ’s word. In Romans 10:13 it says, “Whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Notice the word Lord. The word Lord in Greek is kyrios and it means the one who has authority and exercises command over mankind. Therefore, to call Christ Lord is to submit to His authority and command and this means you will follow Him in obedience. In John 14:21 it says,
“the one who has my commandments and keeps them is the one who loves me, and the one who loves Me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and disclose Myself to Him.”
Then to love God and to love Christ, is to be obedient to Him. The one who loves Christ will not go on disobeying His word, because he or she wants to please Him because He is their Lord, their Master, their Commander. However, one will not just submit to Christ as Lord without knowing who He is and what He has done.
Since the beginning man has chosen to disobey God and to follow man’s worldly desires instead of God. Man has from the beginning chosen to set the desires of his heart on the treasures of this world instead of on God. However, God will not continue to allow this to go on forever. Though for a period God has chosen to restrain His power and wrath to allow all those who are called, to come to Him and to be saved. Although because man is filled with sin, he could never please God while still enslaved to sin and it is impossible for man to earn his way to God. Therefore, God displayed great mercy and love upon mankind by sending His Son Jesus Christ to be the perfect sacrifice for sin and to take on the punishment that man deserves for himself. You see, because we have sinned against God, we are the ones deserving of His wrath and eternal punishment, but instead God sent His Son to take our place and to take our punishment. Think about it, we deserve death, but instead Christ came and died for us and it didn’t end there. Not only did He die, but for those who acknowledge that they have sinned against God and are in need of Him as their savior, they receive His righteousness. That’s right, Christ took our sins and we get His righteousness. In God’s word in 2 Corinthians 5:21 it says,
“He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”
For those who place their faith in Christ, they are made righteous before God and justified in God’s eyes. In other words, when God looks upon them, He sees them clothed in His Son’s righteousness instead of thier own filthy garments.
For the man that sees what Christ has done for him and the love and mercy that God has given him, he will treasure nothing more than he does Christ and he will want to please Him in all things. In Philippians 3:7-8 Paul an apostle of Christ says,
“But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be a loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ.”
This is what the one feels when he truly understands what Christ has done for him. All else becomes a loss that is not for the glory of God. The true Christian who has placed his faith in Christ becomes a follower of Christ and not of the world or himself. In Matthew 16:24-26 Christ says,
“if anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?”
Here Christ makes it very clear that we are to commit our entire lives to Him. The question is, then where is the hope he gives?
Believers in Christ have much more to gain than what this world has to offer. Though we don’t follow Christ to gain anything, lest our motives are self-invoked and then wrong. However, for those who truly set their heart on Christ, His word tells us that there is an inheritance already prepared for them. You see not only do we gain the righteousness of Christ, but through His resurrection, he proved that He has the power to overcome death and in Him, we also will overcome death. In such, He has an eternal inheritance kept for us in heaven. In 1 Peter 1:3-5 Peter says,
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”
Children of God are promised that God will preserve their salvation and that there is an inheritance already prepared and waiting for them. When you trust in God and His word, when you place your faith in Christ, then you have an assured hope that the best is yet to come. A life without pain, without suffering, without tears is what we have to look forward to. That is the hope we have in Christ Jesus, but without Him you are destined for wrath.
I want you to know that this doesn’t mean you won’t suffer now. In fact, Paul says in 2 Timothy 3:12, “Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” So, we know persecution and trials will come. This is how God conforms us to the image of His son and how our faith is proven to be true. There is no trial or persecution though, that is not worth enduring for the Son of God, because He endured beatings, floggings, and the crucifixion for our sake, so that we might become children of His.
Therefore, being a Christian means loving Christ more than anything else, standing firm in His word, committing your life to Christ, and being obedient to His word no matter the cost. Knowing that there is no greater treasure than Him. For those swaying from His word or changing it, they are not His. However, for those who accept His word as it is and remain true to Him and His word, they are His and have much to look forward to, in Christ Jesus. Now there is much more to be said about how we can further discern between those who are teaching a false gospel and those who are not, but I’ll make sure to cover that in another article. To Him be all the Glory!