Summary: Biblical Christianity

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READING: Ephesians 2

TEXT:“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

Ephesians 2:8 - 10 NIV.

There are many matters of which total ignorance and complete indifference are neither tragic nor fatal. I am sure that there are few of us here this evening who would be able to explain in detail all the processes by which a brown cow eats green grass and produces white milk. However, our inability to describe the process doesn’t spoil our enjoyment of the milk! Many of us are very ignorant of the workings of Einstein’s theory of relativity, expressed as E = MC2 - so much so that if someone were to ask us to explain it we would have difficulty. Not only are we ignorant of Einstein’s theory, we are quite indifferent to it! Yet our ignorance and indifference are neither tragic nor fatal.

However, there are some matters where ignorance and indifference can be both tragic and fatal. One such matter is the answer to the question, “What is a biblical Christian?” In other words, according to the Scriptures, when does a man, woman, boy or girl have the right to the name “Christian”? Now one must not make the assumption lightly that he or she is a true Christian. A false conclusion after all, can be tragic and fatal. So it is of vital importance that we understand what the Bible teaches concerning this issue. I therefore want to set before you this evening four strands of the Bible’s answer to the question, “What is a biblical Christian?” According to the Bible, a Christian is a person who has faced realistically the problem of his or her own personal sin.

One of the many things which distinguishes the Christian faith from the other religions of the world is that Christianity is essentially and fundamentally a sinner’s religion. When the angel announced to Joseph the approaching birth of Jesus Christ, he did so in these words, “21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21). The apostle Paul tells us in 1 Timothy 1:15, “15 Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners - of whom I am the worst.” The Lord Jesus Christ himself says in Luke 5:31-32, “ 31 It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 32 I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” A Christian is someone who has faced realistically the problem of personal sin.

When we turn to the Scriptures, we find that each one of us has a two-fold personal problem. On the one hand, we have the problem of our sin and, on the other hand, the problem of our wicked hearts. If we start in Genesis 3 and begin with the tragic account of man’s rebellion against God and his fall into sin, then trace the biblical doctrine of sin all the way through to the Book of the Revelation, we see that it is not oversimplification to say that everything that the Bible teaches about this doctrine can be reduced to these two fundamental categories - the problem of sin and the problem of a wicked heart.

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