What is a Christian?
- A Christian is someone who has repented of their sins and believed the good news of Jesus Christ, specifically, that Jesus died for their sins, was crucified on a cross, was buried, and rose again on the third day, in order that all those who believe in him would have their sins “paid for” by the death which he suffered.
- A Christian is someone who has received Jesus Christ as their Savior, according to the following verse: “But to those that received him, to those who believed on his name, he gave the power to become children of God.” (John 1:12)
- A Christian is someone who has believed in their heart, and confessed with their mouth, that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, who came and died on the cross in order to satisfy God’s righteous requirements for sin.
- A Christian is someone who has eternal life, based on the “exchanged life” principle. This principle states that when we ask Jesus to come into our lives and forgive us of our sins, he then takes on himself the punishment for our sins, while we take upon ourselves his righteousness (seems unfair, but that’s the way it is! It’s a gift from God, that we don’t deserve. We simply have to receive it!) From that moment on, when God sees us, he no longer sees “sin” standing in the way, deserving of judgment. Rather, he sees the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ in our hearts and is therefore able to receive us as “pure” on account of what Jesus did for us in dying for us on the cross (strange, but it works!).
- A Christian is someone who has the Spirit of God in their hearts. The Bible says this is the “downpayment” or “deposit” from God, which assures us that we belong to God. We are safe, if we have the Holy Spirit. By contrast, the Bible says that whoever does not have the Spirit of God does not belong to God. (Romans 8:9)
How does one become a Christian?
- A person may become a Christian simply by confessing, or accepting, Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. That may be done through prayer. “Dear Lord Jesus Christ, I confess that I am a sinner deserving of judgment. I confess that you died on the cross to pay for my sins. I accept you now into my heart and ask you to make me your dear child, by faith. I know that I cannot work for it, but receive it as a free gift from you. Thank-you Lord for saving me. For it is in Christ’s name that I pray. Amen.” (Amen is a traditinal ending that means, “I agree”. You don’t have to say it, but many people do and it is usally a good habit to get into, especially when praying in a group setting, as it means, “I agree to the prayer that was just prayed (by another).)
How does one not become a Christian?
- Being with other believers is a great thing to do (the Bible commands that we should meet together regularly). However, doing this does not make a person a believer. Many people gather together to worship God, but not all are genuine believers. Some may be there for other reasons — for example, for purely social reasons. This is not good enough to gain you entrance into God’s kingdom. You must actually believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God who died for your sins.
- Reading and studying the Bible (God’s word) is also a great thing to do! Once again, the Bible commands that we should do this regularly, and teaches us the person who meditates on God’s word “day and night” will be blessed (see Psalm 1). However, as good as this is, actually reading and studying the Bible in itself does not make a person a believer (but it’s a great start, because the Bible says that faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ — Romans 10:17). There are people who read and study the Bible who are not (yet) beleivers. Until they actually receive Christ as Lord and Savior, they are not accepted as being part of God’s family, according to John 1:12, “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name.” (John 1:12)
- Praying is also a wonderful thing. The Bible say to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17), which must refer to both an attitude of prayer, and being consistent in prayer, at least daily, but more than that is probably better (Daniel prayed three times a day, kneeling – Daniel 6:10). As good as prayer is, however, it actually does not make a person a Christian! That should be obvious, because many people pray from different religions. They are not followers of Christ because they pray. Many people from different faiths pray. But not all are praying to the true God, who gave Jesus Christ as a “ransom” to pay for their sins.
- Doing good works, or being baptized, or giving money, does not make a person a Christian. Again, these are all good, and even necessary, in order for us to be obedient to God. However, once again, many people do these things but do not necessarily believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died for their sins.
- Saying you are a Christian also does not make you a Christian! Many people say they are Christians, and even call Jesus, “Lord”, but not all of these are going to heaven. Jesus said, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” (Matthew 7:21-23)
How then would you sum this up?
- In short, one becomes a Christians by receiving Christ as Lord and Savior. One demonstrates that he is a Christian by doing the will of the Father. But according to a previous passage which we saw, a person could still do “Christian things” (like healing the sick, or casting out demons) and not be a Christian! (In the end, they would be rejected by God, as we see in this verse.) How is this possible? Well, they could always do such things under the devil’s power. Their heart would not be pure. They would be doing things selfishly, not listening to God or wanting to obey Him, but doing things just so that people will notice them. Jesus says that such people will not be accepted by Him in the end. So we need to be very careful to examine our hearts, and our motives. Don’t live in fear always, though — you should be able to rest in Christ! Worship Him as you serve Him, and He will grant you His amazing peace. Doing the “will of the Father” does not mean just “doing Christian things”. It means actively listening to God, and doing what He says at each and every step of the way. Jesus emphasized the importance of doing only the Father’s will at each and every step of the way, when He said, “Truly, Truly, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he sees the Father do: for what ever things he does, these also does the Son likewise.” (John 5:19)
How it is possible to listen to God?
- You’ve got to get to know His voice. Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice.” (John 10:27a)
How does a person get to know Jesus’s (ie. God’s) voice?
- You’ve got to be obedient to Him. Primarily this is what it’s all about — not merely a religious obedience, but obedience in Spirit and in truth (John 4:24). Jesus said, “He that has my commandments, and keeps them, he it is that loves me: and he that loves me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.” (Jesus 14:21) The word “manifest” in that quote has to do with receving revelation from God. Yes, He will reveal Himself to you as you read and study His word, and seek to be obedient to Him. Leave it up to Him as to how He is going to do that, but it’s not wrong to pursue spiritual gifts, as well. God wants to bless you. Use wisdom and serve Him with joy! The Lord speaks through a variety of ways, through His word, but also through dreams and visions. Everything must line up with the word of God, though. As you study the word of God daily, God will make it clear that it is He who is doing the speaking. Make it your aim to be obedient to Him always, and He will begin to show Himself to you. The truth is, you should daily sense His presence but feeling may not always be there. Nevertheless, you should be abiding in God’s peace. (John 14:2)
How do Christians behave?
- Christians follow Christ.
- Christians live for Christ and not for themselves.
- Christians “deny” the flesh (worldly things) and live for Christ and purposes related to God’s kingdom and ways.
- Christians “do things” like get together wtih others to pray, worship, study the Bible, and just plain have fun. Life is mean to be rich and joyful. However, suffering exists in the world, and sometimes we do suffer. In the end, God will make everything right. Just do your best to serve Him! His peace will fill you and His Spirit will guide you as you do. (You have His Spirit living inside of you if you are a genuine believer — that’s a promise — Ephesians 1:13-14.)
- Christians obey Christ in all things. Jesus said, “Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.” (John 15:14)
What are Christ’s commandments?
- There are many commandments that Christ gave to his followers. One of them is, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.” (Matthew 22:37) Another is, “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” (Matthew 22:39)
- In addition to these two great commandments, found in the Old Testament, Christ added a third, important, commandment, based on his own, sacrificial love for mankind: “This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.” (John 15:12)
How does Christ expect us to carry out his commandments?
- First, we are to repent and believe the gospel. That means we are to accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. We are to repent of our sins. We are to no longer live for ourselves, but for Christ.
- Once we have made this decision, we are to be baptized. Baptism is an important step in your decision to follow Christ, for it really means you are deciding to live for Christ.
- Thirdly, we are to obey Christ in all things! This means that you should also start to tell people about Jesus, and their need to turn to Him as Lord and Savior. Jesus said, “This gospel (or good news) of the kingdom must be preached to all nations, and then the end shall come.” (Mark 13:10) Be wise in how you carry this out.
What happens if I was baptized by my parents or my religious leader when I was younger and but I believed later? Should I get baptized again?
- Yes, definitely! All of the baptisms that occured in the Bible were after the people believed, not before. If you are really a believer who has decided to commit your life to Christ, this is both a commandment to be obeyed and an opportunity to testify to others, who will be present. Those who do not get baptized after becoming believers are disobeying God’s word, for the command is not given to the parents, but to the believers themselves (Matthew 28:18-20). Some have turned baptism into being some type of requirement for salvation, which it is not! Baptism is merely an outward sign of an inward change that has already happened in your heart. It is not “mystical” and it in no way changes your eternal state. Remember, it is your genuine faith in Christ as Lord and Savior that saves you … His good work on the cross, not your own! Salvation is ” … a gift from God, not of works, lest any man should boast”. (Ephesians 2:8-9, underline added) You should therefore get baptized again, because the first baptism did not symbolize your faith in Christ, since you were not a believer at that time. You do want your baptism to symbolize your personal decision to follow Christ, do you not? Then you need to get baptized following conversion, because your first baptism did not symbolize that. (Don’t be afraid. God will bless you for it.)
Does one have to be a Christian in order to go to heaven?
- Yes. A person must be a Christian in order to go to heaven. There is no other way. As Jesus said: “No man comes to the Father but by Me.” (John 14:6) We believe it, because Jesus taught it.
Is there another way, apart from Jesus, to go to heaven?
- No. Jesus is the only way. Again, we take you back to John 14:6 (quoted in the previous question). “No man comes to the Father but by Me.” (underline added)
Isn’t Jesus being a little arrogant by saying this?
- Not if He’s God. And the Bible does teach clearly that He is. For example, Jesus Himself claimed to have existed befor Abraham.
Where did He say that?
- In John 8:58. “Before Abraham was, I am.”
Are there any other proofs in the Bible that state Jesus is God?
- Yes. In John 1:1: “In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God.” (John 1:1, underline added) Some verses later, we read, “And the word became flesh” — that’s referring to Jesus and John 1:17 makes that clear (John 1:1,14,17).
Are there any other places that says that Jesus is God?
- Yes. In 1 John 5:20, He is referred to as “the true God, and eternal life.”
Are there any others?
- Yes. In Micah 5:2, where it is prophesied of His being born in the city of Bethlehem, it refers to Him as the one “whose origins have been from everlasting”.
Are there any others?
- Yes. Lots!
But hasn’t the Bible been corrupted? How can we trust it?
- We can trust it for at least two reasons:
- The testimony of science: Scientifically, a thorough study of the thousands of original manuscripts of the Bible confirm that the Bible we have today is an accurate copy of the one which was originally produced.
- The testimony of God’s character: God is faithful and unchanging. Since he is faithful and unchanging, He is faithful to keep His word pure. It has therefore not been changed. Don’t believe all of the lies out there that the Bible has been changed. That’s a strike against the very character of God! Can you guess who invented that lie? (Hint: Satan, who hates God and does not want people coming to a knowledge of the truth.)
But is it really the word of God? Wasn’t it just written by men and women?
- The Bible was written by men (and possibly women, but that is not certain). These were God’s “agents” for getting the job done, in the same way, you might say, that you are God’s agent for taking care of your child (if you have one), or for helping another person. Concerning why we should believe the Bible, here are three good reasons:
- It makes sense. It calls us sinners, which we are. It says we don’t deserve heaven, which we don’t. It says that there’s nothing we can do to save ourselves, which there isn’t. It doesn’t try to hide the truth but openly declares what we know deep in our own hearts to be true. The other so-called “holy” books don’t do that. Each and every one of them — without fail — prescribes a solution for trying to “work our way” to obtaining favor with God. The Bible says we can’t do that! God needs to be in our lives first and then we do the good work! We don’t do the good work to be saved! We do the good work because we are saved. There’s a big difference!
- In the Old Testament, there are hundreds of prophecies that were given concerning the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. For example, in Micah 5:2, quoted above, it says that the Messiah (that is, the anointed One or sent One, who is Jesus) would come from Bethlehem. Jesus came from Bethlehem and fulfilled this prophecy. In Isaiah 53, it says that the Messiah would die by being pierced. Jesus died by being pierced on a cross and fulfilled this prophecy, as well. In Isaiah 7, it says that a virgin would bear a child, and Jesus was born of a virgin and fulfilled this prophecy, as well. Note that all of these prophecies were given hundreds of years before they actually happened. There are hundreds more that He fulfilled, as well! He was betrayed for thirty pieces of silver. This was prophesied. His garments were not torn after his death. This was prophesied as well. His legs were not broken during his death. This was prophesied as well. He cried out, while on the cross, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?” This was prophesied as well!
- Even Muslims, Mormon’s, Jehovah’s Witnesses, who do not believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God (God the Son), and a whole host of other religions “admit” that the Bible (in their terms) “once was the word of God but no longer is because it has been changed.” Notice that their argument relies on denying God His character of faithfulness and makes Him into a weak God who cannot keep His word! That is, of course, not at all what you would expect from an all poweful God! But the fact that these other faiths will go this far says something, don’t you think? It says that they acknowledge it came from heaven! (Which, of course, it did.) They acknowledge it, because it is an undeniable fact. Their argument cannot therefore be that the Bible did not come from heaven, because everyone knows that it did and it’s impossible to hide! If even they acknowledge it, should not you acknowledge it, too? (Except don’t say that it was corrupted, otherwise you will fall into the same snare.)
How could Jesus be God and talk to God at the same time?
- This is a very good question. It’s probably not that easy to understand except to say that God is clearly “Three in One.” He is one God, who has expressed Himself in three distinct persons. Somehow, Jesus is able to talk to God the Father as a distinct and separate person, and yet He is One with God. Therefore, there are definitely three distinct persons. It is rather a mystery, but the Bible teaches us that God is One — and yet He is a plurality of persons (three, to be exact). This goes back all the way to the opening chapters of the Bible, in which we read God saying, “… Let us make man in our image, after our likeness …” (Genesis 1:26, KJV) We know that only God is the Creator. When God said “Let us make …” He was not speaking with the angels, but with Himself — God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit agreeing in unison about Creation. The Bible says that when a man and woman marry, they are no longer two, but one (Matthew 19:6). Here we see an interesting thing. They are “one” but they are still distinct persons. So, too, God is three distinct persons. Yet He is One. By this analogy, you can really see that God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit really are separate and distinct, but all working together in perfect harmony. Who can possibly understand all this? Some of this needs to be received by faith. When you do, God will bless you, because you are aligning yourself with truth — even if you don’t fully comprehend it.
How could God ‘die’?
- Spiritually, people don’t die. Their souls live on for all eternity and go to either heaven or hell. (NB: There is no purgatory. That is merely a myth and will serve to only give you a false hope. Sorry to disappoint you.) It is only their physical bodies that die. When God came to this earth in the form of a man (Jesus Christ), when He died on the cross, His spirit did not die, but only His body did. He did this to take the punishment for sins upon himself. That is, God took our punishment for sins upon Himself! He loved us that much! “For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:6-8)
Can you sum all this up in one short verse?
- Yes. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16, KJV)