Summary: I would like us to try to answer the question, ‘what is a Christian?’ There is a huge amount of confusion over this issue!


Mark 10:17-22


This morning I would like us to try to answer the question, ‘what is a Christian?’ There is a huge amount of confusion over this issue!

I believe it’s important to be able to provide an answer to this question for 2 reasons –

1. So we can assess where we are in relation to Christ.

2. So we can inform others what it is to be a Christian.

So let’s try to answer the question - ‘What actually is a Christian?’

Perhaps we could kick off by hearing from the floor.

· What do you think makes a person a Christian?

· Would anybody else like to contribute?

I overheard a conversation between the CEO and the Assistant CEO of the place where I was working at the time – the conversation was in the context of being good people. It went something like this: ‘I am more of a Christian (said the assistant) than those who go by that name’. ‘I do more for the community than most of them do!’ ‘And I certainly am not a bad, evil person’ The CEO responded, ‘you hit the nail on the head – most Christians are all talk! They talk about doing good more than they do it’.

To consider a person to be a Christian on the merits of what good that person does is common. I am sure we have all heard the phrase, ‘yes that’s the Christian thing to do’. We seem to equate being Christian with doing.

But is this actually right? In fact I have entitled this message, ‘What Must I Do?’.

Can anyone tell me where the word Christian came from?

It came from the Bible. The term is used there (Acts 11:26; 26:28; 1 Pet 4:16). So perhaps we can discover from the pages of the Bible the true meaning of what it is to be a Christian.

Please follow along on the screen as I read to you from the Bible. I am reading from the Gospel according to Mark (10:17-22)


Before we consider that question, we need to realise that this man came enquiring how to become a Christian. He was seeking eternal life – never ending life. Christians claim to have that life. So this man was in effect asking how he could become a Christian.

So getting back to the question - what type of man was he?

· Looking at the description of this man who came to Jesus – what strikes you about him?

· Would any others like to comment?

Would you agree that this man who came to Jesus, eagerly wanted to know the answer to the question, ‘how can I have everlasting life?’ – we are told he ran to Jesus & began asking Him – asking Him again & again.

Would you agree that this man was a deeply religious man? – we are told that he kept the commandments, God’s laws from his youth.

Would you agree that he treated Jesus with great respect? – we are told he knelt before Him.

Would you agree that he recognised good in Jesus – he called Him good teacher, He was more than just an ordinary teacher.

Note that Jesus in verse 18 tries to pull out the full implication of this man’s comment by saying – ‘… "Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone.’ The Lord Jesus Christ, the second person of the God-head tries to see whether this man understands who He really is.

The accounts of this same incident recorded in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke also include that this man was young and that he was a ruler.

We are told that Jesus loved him. Jesus could see that here was a man who desired to do the right thing – here was a man who enthusiastically wanted to know his spiritual and eternal destiny.

Here was an enthusiastic, good, rich, young ruler who wanted to know what to do to inherit eternal life.

So what was this man like? He was a good man who had everything going for him - wealth, youth, position, religious zeal, respect & enthusiasm.



Look at verse 21 – ‘… "One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess, and give to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me."

Was Jesus condemning wealth or possessions when He said that?

Was He saying that eternal life could be obtained through good works – by suggesting that this man give to the poor?

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