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What is a Christian?

People have many different ideas as to what a Christian is. The answers to the question of what is Christianity are as diverse as the number of people asked.

The ideas and concepts of what Christianity is that are tossed around in discussions and debates abounds. But few people are able to actually grasp what the truth of Christianity really is.

Many people (including Christians) see Christians as hypocrites (Unfortunately most of the time it is true.). Pious Hypocrites is a label (a somewhat deserved label) for Christianity.

Many people view Christians as straight laced teetotalers; men dressed in white shirts with narrow black ties, black slacks and penny loafers, short greased down hair parted down the side to perfection; women wearing dresses down to their ankles and buttoned up to their neck, hair in a tight bun, and little or no makeup; neither never smiling and looking like they have never had a fun day in their life. So cold and indifferent that it makes you wonder how they could ever have babies.

Most people see Christianity as sets of rules and regulations that must be followed. High rigorous standards of ethics and morality, which must not only be sought after, but must also be obtained and maintained. You know the - do unto others as you would have them do unto you; turn the other cheek - kind of things.

I could go on and on expounding on the ideas and concepts of Christianity. But I think you get the jest of what I am saying. So it would be rather pointless to continue on with it.

Whether you are a Christian or a curious heathen, I am about to shatter your ideas and concepts of Christianity into little bitsy pieces. What I am about to write is addressed to both Christians and non-Christians. As the message applies to all who do not understand the love and mercy and grace of God.

So what is Christianity all about; just what exactly does it mean to be a Christian?

Am I a Christian because I follow the law of the Old Testament, or follow the Ten Commandments? No, that's not it. Jesus came to put an end to the laws that no one could ever keep.

The apostle Paul in his epistles, (Romans and Galatians are the best to study on this.) explains how the grace of God and not the law brings salvation to mankind. Romans chapter 7 shows that the purpose of the law is to reveal mans sinfulness to him. That the law is not a way a man can obtain salvation, that is by fulfilling the law, because it is impossible for man to fulfill the law.

Jesus is the only one who has or ever will fulfill all the righteous requirements of the law. It is only by the grace of God through faith that the righteousness of Jesus Christ is given to us so that we may obtain salvation. (See Ephesians chapter2: 4-9.)

Matthew 22:37-40;

Mat 22:37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

Mat 22:38 This is the first and great commandment.

Mat 22:39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

Mat 22:40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

Ask yourself, can you or anyone you know follow what Jesus said without fail? How much simpler could it be, just two little things to do, love God and love your neighbor. Seems so easy, yet can anybody perform these so seemingly simple tasks? May I be so bold as to say, NO WAY! NOT A CHANCE!

So then, if following the law and obeying the Ten commandments are not prerequisites of Christianity, What is a Christian? Is it not true that high rigorous moral and ethical standards must be the basis for Christianity? There has to be some kind of standards, right? Because without a certain level of moral and ethical standards, what would be the difference between a professing Christian and a whore selling herself to buy drugs? Please tell me there is a difference between Christians and murders, thieves, and rapists.

Okay, if you think you are ready for it, I will tell you there is one major difference between a Christian and murders, rapists, and thieves. That one major difference is that a Christian is forgiven.

WHAT! THAT'S IT? There has to be more to it!

Nope. That is it. Forgiveness is the only difference between a Christian and anybody else. Read on and I will show you.

Romans 3: 19-28;

Rom 3:19 Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.

Rom 3:20 Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.

Rom 3:21 But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;

Rom 3:22 Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:

Rom 3:23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

Rom 3:24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:

Rom 3:25 Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;

Rom 3:26 To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.

Rom 3:27 Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith.

Rom 3:28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.

In the eyes of God there is not different levels of sin. Each and every sin is just as bad as or just the same as any other sin. If after a long hard day I become tired and somewhat grumpy, and if I do not return a smile to someone who greets me. That lack of common courtesy is on the same level of sin as someone who offers their child as a burnt offering in a pagan ritual.

God is perfectly righteous and He demands perfect righteousness. However, since man is incapable of perfect righteousness on his own, God has given us a gift.

John 3: 16-18;

Joh 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Joh 3:17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

Joh 3:18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

Well then, I might as well go ahead and put forth the question that is now on everybody's mind (especially that of the self-righteous Christians). The question being, If I say I believe in Jesus, then that means I can do whatever I want and not worry about it, right? I guess if I say I have faith, I don't have to work for a living anymore, I can just rob banks and convenience stores, and murder all the eye witnesses so I don't get caught and have to go to prison and be separated from my wife. But hey wait a minute, who cares about wives, who needs them, adultery is okay so now I can sleep with anyone that I want to. Everything is o.k. to do now as long as I say I have faith in Jesus. That is what is being said here, Right?

NO! NO! NO! That is not what I am saying! I am not teaching or approving licentiousness (That is a long word describing the above.). If you think that I am attempting to teach licentious behavior, then you need to get a firm grip on yourself, and grasp hold of reality.

For help in understanding, I will use my own self as an example.

After Jesus became the Lord and Savior of my life, I met and married the woman who is now my forth wife. In the three marriages that ended before I came to know Jesus, I had adulterous affairs. Bartenders, liquor stores, and drug dealers felt a major economic impact at the time of my salvation. I have no desire to return to any of those life styles. But if in a moment of weakness, or for some unknown reason I go out and start getting drunk and or start getting high, and or enter into an adulterous affair, will I cook in hell? No. Will I be forgiven? Yes.

Why will I be forgiven and not have to cook in hell like anybody else? Two reasons, first and foremost faith, and secondly repentance.

Faith in God and in His promises. Faith to repent. Repentance, to repent means to be sorry, but it also means much more. Repentance means to reconsider what you have done and make a change, to turn away from what is causing you to separate yourself from God and return to Him.

Sometimes it is quite difficult to repent. So much so that it must be by faith that you repent. There are times, be it by weakness or hard headed rebellion, that you find yourself caught up in situations and circumstances that you cannot get yourself out of on your own. In these times the only way to repent is by faith.

Have faith in God and in His promises. Humble yourselves before the Lord and He will lift you up. Cast all of your cares upon Him for He cares for you.

There are some things in which no matter how hard you try not to return to, you still end up there. A certain situation or different sets of circumstances you try hard to avoid, yet you seem to find yourself repeating them again and again.

You tried hard to repent, you have even repented by faith. But you continually find yourself where you don't want to be. The devil will whisper in your ear (self righteous Christians and preachers will shout it at you), that you have used up the last of forgiveness. That this last failure was one too many. Your wasting your time, Christianity is not meant for you, so just give it up. You obviously enjoy doing this more than being a Christian or you wouldn't keep doing it. So just go ahead and do it, and quit trying to do this Christian thing.

So, how many times can a person repent before he has to give it up and be resigned to the conclusion that he is just not cut out to be a Christian? When do you say enough is enough I quit, it's too hard and I just can't take it any more I give up? NEVER! Never give up!

This should bring you more hope. Peter asked Jesus if he should forgive his brother up to as many as seven times. Jesus told him no, not just seven times, but seventy times seven times (Matthew 18:22). Basically, Jesus is saying that as long as that brother keeps returning seeking forgiveness, to keep on forgiving, do not limit forgiveness. If we as imperfect humans are to continue to forgive without limit, then would a perfect God limit His forgiveness? Certainly not. For He will continue to forgive us as long as we seek forgiveness.

Though I strive to do good before God, to do good to those around me, and even to do good for myself as well, I continually fail. But I must not give up and by faith alone continue on. By faith I know that He who has begin a good work in me will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ. (Phil. 1:6). That is, I might fail, but He will never fail.

If I become frustrated and lose heart, if my faith fails, His will not. He will complete that good work which He started in me. It is Jesus not me.

So, let's get back to the original question of, What is a Christian?

The truth of the answer is really quite plain and very simple. A Christian is a person just like every other person. A Christian has frailties, weaknesses, and failures just like everybody else.

As a Christian I know that by faith my failures are forgiven. I know that I may rebel, I might do some really dumb stuff, I may lose heart and want to give up, I may become discouraged enough to want to thumb my nose at doing good, I know that I may fail. But I also know that I know that Jesus will never fail. I know that Jesus will never quit doing that good work in me. (Right now I have to say praise God and thank you Jesus. You can join in with me on this if you want to.)

The answer plain and simple is that a Christian is a person whose trust is not in himself, but in Jesus alone. Christianity is not works of the law, not rules and regulations. Christianity is faith in Jesus Christ and in His works. (Get Eph. 2:1-10 well settled in your heart and it will give you peace.)

I write to my fellow Christians not to look down pious self-righteous noses in condemnation to others. Self righteousness does not only move you away from God, it also drives the unsaved away from God as well. Do you want to stand before God and try to explain to Him why in your self-righteous pride you drove people away from Him, away from the work Jesus did? You are saved because of Jesus and His good works, not yours. So, GET YOUR SELF RIGHTEOUS BEHIND OUT OF THE WAY AND LET PEOPLE SEE THE GRACE OF GOD! LET THE LIGHT OF JESUS SHINE!

To non-Christians I write asking a question. Do you want the forgiveness of God? If you do not want it, you might as well stop reading now, and get on with whatever you want to do. You better enjoy yourself now, because you will cook in hell for eternity. This is not an attempted scare tactic or a weirdo threat, it is a promise, it is the truth.

If you do want God's forgiveness I will show you what to do. I am not going to give you rules and regulations, or a set of laws to follow. The plan to follow is quite simple.(I think that self righteous people are the way they are, because the plan is just to easy for them.)

Here is the plan. Repent, turn to God. Let Jesus come into your heart to be the Lord and Savior of your life. Pray. In essence prayer is talking with God, basically a conversation. God already knows you better than you know yourself, so go ahead and pour your heart out to Him. Ask Him for forgiveness and turn your life over to Jesus.

There are many different passages concerning salvation in the Bible. But this is the one I like the best, so here it is.

Romans 10:8-13;

Rom 10:8 But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach;

Rom 10:9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.

Rom 10:10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

Rom 10:11 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.

Rom 10:12 For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.

Rom 10:13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

I strongly encourage you to find a good Bible teaching Church which you can call home.

I pray that our Lord Jesus Christ will fill your heart with love, joy, peace, and comfort. Praise God. Halleluiah. Amen.

Please feel free to write me at:
Ray Johnson
PO Box 822 Warsaw, Mo. 65355


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