What is a Christian?
The ‘ian’ suffix attached to a word means that it is related to, or like, or belonging to. So a Christian would denote being related to, or like, or belonging to Christ.
In my meditations considering this, there seem to me to be three dimensions of being a Christian.
The first dimension:
1.Do you call yourself a Christian?
The first level of being a Christian is whether you believe yourself to be one. It is hard to imagine the circumstance of being a Christian without first considering yourself one.
A recent ABCNEWS beliefnet poll conducted in the summer of 2015 reported that:
Eighty-three percent of Americans identify themselves as Christians. Most of the rest, 13 percent, have no religion. That leaves just 4 percent as adherents of all non-Christian religions combined — Jews, Muslims, Buddhists and a smattering of individual mentions.
For the past 14 years, I have ministered in a local jail and I speak with easily hundreds of people each year. Men accused of the most atrocious crimes. . .before being arrested, living the most hellacious out of control lifestyles, and yet many consider themselves to be Christians, often believing that they are going to heaven.
There is a completely mistaken, non-biblical philosophy taught among many mainstream Christian churches, that all you need to do to be 100% certain of salvation is to confess Jesus Christ as your savior. From that point forward you can molest children, rape women, beat your wife, sell drugs, murder people, and it doesn’t matter. . . confessing Jesus Christ as your savior is the most powerful abracadabra magical incantation imaginable and the ultimate Get-out-of-jail-free card. . .it sends you to heaven forever and nothing can supposedly change that.
A piece of string can be looked at as a one dimensional shape. It has length, but virtually no height or width.
So the first dimension of being a Christian is internal within you. Do you think yourself a follower of Christ.
The second dimension:
2. Do others call you a Christian?
This level is more exclusive than the first, in that usually for someone else to call you a Christian, you must exhibit behavior or a lifestyle at least superficially identifiable as one who follows Christ.
This may mean, that others see you pray, or that you are known to attend church, or you may not drink/smoke/cuss for what are known to be religious reasons. For others to identify you thus, there has to be some element of spirituality, or religious practice apparent in your life.
Often at this level others around you will modify their behavior out of respect for your beliefs. People will apologize if they curse in front of you, or will abstain from telling off color jokes in your presence. They might come to you with prayer requests, etc.
This now cannot merely be an internally held belief. This is an added aspect. . . a second dimension. If the first dimension is length, such as a piece of string has. This second dimension would be width added to length, like a piece of paper. A piece of paper has length, and width, but virtually no height.
This level of Christianity has the internal profession of being a Christian, added to it a second level of being apparent on the outside for others to see.
The third dimension:
3. Does God see you as a Christian?
The first thing that must be observed, is that God said that many of those in the first two levels of Christianity, we have viewed here today, are going to be disappointed, when the day of judgment comes:
These people had an apparent internal belief of being followers of Christ, and were ministering to others. . . Many will say that they have done many wonderful works in His name, but He did not know them. He had no relationship with them, and apparently they had no relationship with Him. . . They will be surprised, and from this verse, after judgement apparently they will even argue with Him, trying to convince Him that their good works outweighed their continued disobedience. . . their continued sinning to Him.
Verse 21 those that do the will of God will go to Heaven. . . those who continue to do bad things. . . work iniquity. . .continue to sin, will not go to Heaven. The hard truth is, that they will go to hell.
Statements of Jesus:
This is Jesus speaking in all the above verses. How can anyone then argue that salvation is only about belief, and not about actions?. . . only about actions, and not about living a holy and righteous life? It seems stunningly clear to me that we are not do do iniquity, but we are to follow Jesus in His words and obey His words.
The woman taken in adultery. . . sexual immorality. . . sex outside of marriage, in whatever flavor it might take:
He commanded her, “Go and sin no more.” He did not say, “Go and continue to sin, and you will go to heaven.” He said, “he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness. . .” What does that mean to you? Darkness=sin. To walk in darkness, is to live a sinful life.
More statements of Jesus:
These are the words of Jesus. It is beyond the scope of this essay to explore all the commandments of Jesus and their implications, but my purpose is to make you aware that He does have commandments. . .and He expects us to submit to Him, and obey them.
He cannot be our Lord, if we do not obey Him. A Lord cannot be ignored. He must be obeyed.
Find out what these things mean. . .
You must of your mind, and in your heart decide and commit to being a disciple of Christ. You must love your fellow man, and strive to be forgiving, and loving, and Christlike in your relationships with your fellow man, and finally you must love God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength. . . and as a consequence, if you love Him, you will keep His commandments.
At this, you will be a 3 dimensional Christian. . . Having spiritual breadth, and depth, and height. . . filled with love for God and for your fellow man. . .Holy. . .having no cause for shame.
I love you my God. . .
I thank you for saving me. . .