Believe it or not, one of the world's strangest, rarest
creatures is an individual called a Christian. Just what
is a "Real" Christian anyway? How does one become
a Christian? Are repentance and baptism necessary?
Millions upon millions of people feel they are Christians, that is, they are believers in the Christian religion, as opposed to the beliefs of Islam, Buddha, or Judaism. But once beyond the vague label of "Christian," all similarity stops. Christians, it seems, come in every conceivable brand, stripe, and description, every size, shape and ideal.
It is time you understood the very basic, down-to-earth, fundamentals of Christianity, the very heart, the root and core of the teachings of Jesus Christ.
You need to realize that most professing Christians today believe the exact opposite from the very simplest, the clearest teaching of Jesus Christ.
Suppose you were to conduct an experiment, by using the Bible definition of "Christian", meaning the plain, simple, impossible to be misunderstood scriptures clearly defining what a real Christian is.
Should your search begin with the large, multimillion member organizations whose steepled edifices dot the land? Or instead, among tiny, struggling missionary groups? Or perhaps
among the various newly organized youth groups claiming to be God's own children?
Would your search also take you into health food stores or to communal settlements tucked away in secluded hills? Would it lead you into busy offices on Wall Street? Would it bring you face to face with military barricades manned by soldiers armed
with submachine guns?
Try and picture it in your mind's eye. There is this American Marine crouching in an Allied fox hole in France in WWII, shells are shrieking overhead and the night is punctuated with the shatter and spatter of machine-gun and rifle bullets. The Marine is scared; tears are running down his face. He is earnestly praying to God for protection from his enemy, and for victory in the war so he can go back home to mom and dad, or even his girl friend and maybe a job.
About two hundred yards to the west is the enemy's trench. In this one you see a young, blond, kid sporting one of those funny looking helmets with a little spike in the top of it. He, too, is crouched in his foxhole with fear, and he happens to be praying the same prayer to the same God.
It appears that God has a problem here. How would he decide which one of those young boys was going to live? Which one of them is a real Christian?
Jesus Christ explained to his disciples how to recognize the difference between a false prophet and a true one and by extension how to recognize anyone who represents God. (Matt. 7: 16-17, 20) "Ye shall know them by their fruits".
What kind of fruits was Christ talking about? Paul explains that the fruits of the Holy Spirit are "love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance. (Gal. 5: 22-23). These are the fruits a true Christian should possess.
Jesus Christ said: "I am the vine, ye are the branches. He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit; for without me you can do nothing" (John 15:5). In other words, it is only through Christ that a Christian can produce the spiritual fruit that marks him as a true follower of Christ.
It may hard to believe, but Christianity is a full time job. It's what you do all the time, not what you do now and then, or when the mood strikes you, or when the social pressures build to the point of unbearable degree, thus sending you off "to church" once or twice a year, or to "confession" for a fresh shot of righteousness to replace the faded, dulled coating you're presently wearing.
Don't you think that is strange that millions of professing "Christians" do not seem to know that Christianity is a way of life! It's a way of thinking, acting, talking, working, playing, loving, a way of doing!
How many "Christians" are truly Christ like in spirit? Christ was completely "poor in spirit"! He was completely humble! A greater man never lived. There never was a more dynamic, lively, energetic, personable, talented man. There never was a man with
more reason to get all "puffed up" and proud, filled with human vanity, but yet, Christ was humble! The Apostle Paul wrote, "Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits" (Rom. 12:16).
The teaching's of Jesus Christ concerning love of enemies, turning the other cheek, and the precepts of the "Golden Rule" are so well known that they seem a commonplace, almost a casually repeated, part of modern day "Christianity."
Millions of professing Christians hear sermons every Sunday morning preached from the famous "Beatitudes." But Christ knew in advance that his teachings would be watered down, spiritualized away, and trampled underfoot in a maze of confusion and conflicting beliefs. Christ knew and forewarned that men would profess his name, would claim to be "Christian" but would adamantly refuse to obey what he said.
(Luke 6:46) "Why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?" Jesus Christ knew people would "believe on him," adore his person, and yet pervert or ignore his message. "Take heed that no man deceive you. For many (not just a few) shall come in my name, saying I am Christ; and shall deceive many" (Matt. 24: 4-5).
Christ said, "Blessed are the peacemakers." And He didn't mean blessed are those who take up guns and then deceive themselves they're making peace! Listen! If guns make peace, where on the face of this earth is the peace they have brought us?
We can call ourselves "Christians" but it would embarrass us to tears to profess openly to really follow, to live by, the words of the One whose name we appropriate.
Yes, blessed are the real peacemakers. They shall be called the children of God. God is producing children. "Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: Therefore the world ) the society, the age, the people around us) knoweth us not, because it knew him not. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is" I John 3:1-2.
Jesus Christ goes on to describe how really converted ones will rejoice when they receive persecution that comes from living a righteous, godly, life in this present evil world
A true "Christian" will keep customs almost universally abhorred by so called "Christians" today! A real Christian's life style is different. They keep God's true Sabbath, the seventh day of the week. They observe God's true holy days, the annual Sabbaths. They dedicated their lives to doing the work of preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God as a witness to this dying world.
From the very days of Jesus Christ until now, the movement to turn grace (forgiveness, unmerited pardon, mercy upon repentance) into lasciviousness has continued. Today, millions of professing Christians seem to reject's God's law. Thousands of their ministers fail to teach obedience to even Christ's clearest commands! Many say there is nothing you must do, therefore calling Christ a liar when he said: "If thou wilt enter into life keep the commandments" (Matt. 19:17).
The Bible, the Word of God, makes it clear that to be a real Christian you must repent of having broken God's law. All have sinned (Roman 3:23), and the wages of sin is death (Roman 6:23). Jesus Christ paid the penalty by shedding his life's blood in our place. But acceptance of his shed blood does not mean
license or permission to live an unrighteous life. (Acts 3:26) "Unto you first God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities."
Iniquity means lawlessness. Sin is the breaking of God's law (I John 3:4), and we must stop transgressing that law ( in all of its points, as Christ magnified it and made it much more binding in the "Sermon on the Mount) The Apostle Peter said on the day of Pentecost: "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit" ( Act. 3:26).
What makes a real "Christian", it is the Spirit of God that makes the difference. And you either have it or you don't! It is that tangible.
It is only by receiving the Holy Spirit that you become a true Christian. "For by one Spirit, are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit" (I Cor. 12:13).
Probably the best and most concise biblical definition of a Christian is found in Romans. "But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man (or woman) has not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his" (Rom. 8:9).
It is the Holy Spirit that is the missing ingredient. No real lasting, permanent spiritual fruit may be borne without it. With it your whole life can be changed! Without it, you're not all there. You were born to be begotten with God's Spirit. That may
sound a little strange to some. But it's true!
The Holy Spirit changes your whole perspective. It changes your outlook, your point of view, your opinions, your very thought processes, your reasoning. It changes your attitude, it lifts your spirit, it enlivens, it energizes, and it vivifies. It is the most precious, priceless, bountiful blessing a loving Father
could ever give you, a part of his very own life. It truly makes you a real "Christian” if you use it.