A little boy came home from Vacation Bible School one day, ran into the living room, and asked his dad, “What is a Christian?” The dad said, “Son, a Christian is one who has confessed his faith in Jesus Christ. He has repented of his sins and has been baptized. He is kind to his neighbors, never loses his temper, tithes his money and never lies, cheats or exaggerates. A Christian is one who never misses church. He studies his Bible, and he wins souls to Christ. He is longsuffering and kind and patient and prayerful.” After this long definition, the little boy looked at his father and said, “Daddy, have I ever seen one?”
Much confusion in the minds of the average person who is a Christian.
The word “Christian” is only used 3 times in the NT:
1. “For a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.” Acts 11:26, NIV.
2. “Then Agrippa said to Paul, “Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?”” Acts 26:28, NIV.
3. “However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.” 1 Peter 4:16, NIV.
While the name Christian is alluded to throughout the NT, many other words used to describe the people who became followers of Jesus. Over the next several weeks we will discuss these other words that add so much meaning to “Christian.” Something basic as we go into Fall.
Thesis: A Christian Is... A Believer
We find this term “believers” to describe the followers of Jesus Christ throughout the NT. Just a sampling from the book of Acts:
“All the believers were together and had everything in common.” Acts 2:44, NIV.
“All the believers were one in heart and mind.” Acts 4:32, NIV.
“All the believers used to meet together in Solomon’s Colonnade.” Acts 5:12, NIV.
Describing Christians as believers is Biblically correct since this is used around 50 times in NT
To say a person is a believer does not mean that he or she is a Christian
According to article in Washington Post, dated December 12, 2008, 47% of Americans believe in Darwin’s theory of evolution, 44% believe in ghosts, 36% believe in witches and astrology; and 25% believe in reincarnation. In same year CNN News surveyed 35,000 Americans and discovered that 70% believe there are many paths to heaven. The shocking statistic is that 57% of those claiming to be bible believing Christians share this view.
Here is a song that I love entitled simply: I Believe- I believe for every drop of rain that falls A flower grows I believe that somewhere in the darkest night A candle glows I believe for everyone who goes astray, someone will come To show the way I believe, I believe I believe above a storm the smallest prayer Can still be heard I believe that someone in the great somewhere Hears every word Every time I hear a new born baby cry, Or touch a leaf or see the sky Then I know why, I believe.
We can see the God of the Bible talked about here. However, we could be Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, New Age Religions and appreciate this song. To say that a Christian is a “believer” requires more than is expressed in the words of this song.
In our modern times to refer to a person as a “believer” may not mean that person is a Christian. People today believe in all kinds of things. The people who are called “believers” in the NT had some specific and definite beliefs about God and His Son, Jesus Christ. Let’s talk about those beliefs that should be held by all those who call themselves Christians. Refuse to giving a creed but these things are essential for true Christians.
1. Christians believe in the God who has revealed himself to us in the Bible.
Most people believe in some kind of God. We believe in more than “someone in the great somewhere.” We believe in the God of the Bible. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Genesis 1:1, NIV. The Bible begins with God. Bible never gives any argument, any defense, any presentation, any discussion concerning the existence of God. The Bible begins with just: “Here He is.”
Without the Bible where do we get our thoughts about God. All peoples have had concepts, thoughts, and ideas about God. Some of them bizarre to our minds. Many got their ideas from stories passed down to them. Their stories and books are unreliable. Notice what the Bible says about itself.
“And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” 2 Peter 1:19-21, NIV.
“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,” 2 Timothy 3:16, NIV.
“The Scripture cannot be broken--” John 10:35, NIV.
2. Christians believe that Jesus is God’s Son
“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14, NIV.
Christians believe Jesus of Nazareth is God’s One and Only Son who came to be the One who offered Himself as a sacrifice for our sins.
Being a believer in Christ also means that we have come to the place in our life when we trust Him completely to do everything He promises He can and will do. We believe that when we make Jesus our Lord and Savior, He can and will forgive every sin we commit.
“When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins,” Colossians 2:13, NIV.
3. Christians believe that Jesus is Lord
“That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Romans 10:9, NIV. The word “Lord” means “ruler, master, supreme one.”
We must recognize Jesus as Lord if we are to be counted as believers. Sad to say, many people want Jesus as their Savior but are unwilling to have him as their Lord. When we say, “I believe Jesus is Lord” we are saying, “He is my ruler, I am His subject; He is my master, I am His slave; He is the Supreme One in my life, when He speaks I will obey.”
““Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 7:21, NIV. Believers seek to obey whatever Jesus commands!
4. Christians believe the only way to be saved is through Jesus Christ
While most Americans believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God, 70% believe many paths to eternal life. This is so contrary to what the Bible teaches!
“Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No-one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6, NIV.
“Salvation is found in no-one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”” Acts 4:12, NIV.
5. Christians believe we are guilty sinners
“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” Romans 3:23, NIV.
Paul called himself “ the worst of sinners” 1 Timothy 1:16, how about us? I am the worst sinner than I know. William Law- “We may justly condemn ourselves as the greatest sinners we know, because we know more of the folly of our own hearts than we do of other people’s.”
The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). The only way to have our sins removed is through faith in Jesus Christ who died on a cross to take the punishment we rightfully deserve.
“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:21, NIV.
“He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.” 1 Peter 2:24, NIV.
6. Christians believe in a literal heaven and a literal hell. Most people believe in a place called Heaven but there are many today who do not believe in a place called hell. 73% of Americans believe in Heaven but only 59% believe in Hell. We can’t have it both ways. The same Bible that tells us of heaven tells us of hell as well. In fact Jesus talked more about Hell than he did about Heaven. ““Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”” Matthew 25:46, NIV.
Two sides to being a Christian. We have God’s side. But there is also our side. God offers us salvation but we must respond by accepting. When taking a trip by plane, when do display my trust in the crew and airplane that they will take me safely to my destination? When I get on board. Alright to say I believe in the airplane, it is another to get on board. Willing to obey the gospel commands and get on board. Give gospel commands