A couple of weeks ago in Carson City, a local church offered an evening of instruction and a time for questions and answers on the subject of Christians. To be more specific, whether its particular group is Christian.
This article is not to refute or dispute the teaching or the answers given that evening. There are many groups that gather today under the umbrella of what they define as Christianity.
What I will attempt to do in the briefness of this format is to pinpoint a few things that define a Christian. These points are in the Bible, which is the only source that truly defines what a Christian is. Let's face it, the Bible is the definitive work on the life of Jesus Christ, the foundation for true Christians.
Libraries and bookstores are filled with additional resources on this
subject. The key word here is additional.
The first thing that we have to
establish in true Christianity is the infallibility of the written word of
God. Infallibility simply means cannot be mistaken, cannot be wrong, and not
able to contradict itself. Once that is established, a great chasm is
developed between those of so-called Christendom and true Christianity. How any group can define itself as Christian based on any other book is to lose sight on the original source of Christianity. The Bible
contains 66 books written and inspired by God through the hand of 40
authors with diverse backgrounds over a span of hundreds of years from
various locations, speaking solely about one subject: Jesus Christ the
author and perfecter of all life.
As oxygen, water and nutrition are essential to human life, there are also
essentials to true Christian faith. If one defines himself or herself as a
Christian from any other source than the original, you begin to run the risk
of redefining Jesus Christ, salvation and redemption, eternal security,
hell and a whole host of other essential subjects. In so doing, you write
into existence another religion of manmade origins.
The title "Christian" is derived from the name of Jesus Christ and was first given to the Christians as an insult for their life of imitating Christ. This
insult is literally the greatest of all compliments. But let's not mistake
those who appear to be like Christ, but at the root of their belief system
deny the very truth of Him.
The Bible says that Jesus is the only begotten of the Father. This is an essential. The Bible says that He, the only begotten of the Father, physically rose from the dead on the third day and ascended to the right hand of the Father, where He makes intercession on our behalf. Not only did the Bible record it, but this same Jesus said in John 14:6, "I am the way, the truth and the life, and no one comes to the Father except through Me."
The Bible also says, "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is a gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast. For we are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them (Ephesians 2:8-10)."
Faith is only as good as the object in which it is placed. Salvation and its source is an essential. Jesus is the source, and salvation is by no other means.
For those of us who think more along the lines of mathematical equations, think on these things: Jesus Christ's virgin birth, His sinless life, His crucifixion (which included the words "It is finished") , His burial and His resurrection "bodily" on the third day, which equals salvation for those who receive this truth in their heart and confess this with their mouth.
More simply put, Jesus plus nothing equals salvation. The work done on the cross is as important as the One doing the work on that cross.
To say that He was less than whom He claimed to be, to say that that work was not a complete work and we need somehow to add to that work is blaspheme, which is unbelief.
Another thought to dwell upon: religion in and of itself, no matter what flavor, is man's attempt to reach God. True Christianity is God reaching man, defined otherwise as a personal relationship with Jesus.
The Rev. Patrick Propster is with Calvary Chapel in Carson City.