What does it mean to be a Christian? How would you
define the term in our modern era? While the word is found in Scripture
11:26; 1 Peter 4:16),
sorely misunderstood today. Christianity overall, and being a Christian
specifically, are such ambiguous concepts they can mean almost
today’s environment, you can call yourself a Christian, no
matter what you
believe or what you practice.
Consider a letter sent to a denominational publication
about the concept of hell. The person asks, “What kind of a
God would ask, even
command us, to forgive seventy times seven in a day and to go the
while He Himself is willing to forgive mankind only in this short span
The answer is, of course, the God of Scripture, where He writes,
believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son
see life, but the wrath of God abides on him” (John 3:36). In
this life God
forgives us so many more times than the seventy times seven. The depth
forgiveness isn’t shallow, as He sent His Son in the flesh to
die for our sins.
However, forgiveness is a matter for this life, not
eternity. The Hebrews writer reminds us, “it is appointed for
men to die once
and after this comes judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). Paul speaks of
judgment as the
time when “we must all appear before the judgment seat of
Christ, so that each
one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he
done, whether good or bad” (2 Corinthians 5:10). Notice, he
says the deeds done
in the body, in this life. In this life, we can seek God’s
mercy, grace and
forgiveness, but after this life comes judgment, where we are held
for the decisions we made in this life, for eternity. This side of
where we find forgiveness, not afterwards. We are reminded of the
that separated the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:26), from which one
pass over to the other. Where one spends eternity is, well, eternal.
The person who couldn’t conceive God condemning people
to hell is not familiar with the God of Scripture, or Scripture itself.
the modern persuasion of trying to make God into our image, rather than
allowing ourselves to be conformed into His. “‘For
My thoughts are not your
thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’ declares the LORD.
‘For as the heavens
are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My
than your thoughts’” (Isaiah 55:8-9).
The name Christian means “a follower of Christ.” To
follow Christ, one must follow His Word (John 8:31-32). Just to wear
Christian, then, doesn’t make it so, as the above example
reveals. How do we
distinguish ourselves as Christians, compared with its use in the world
us? With such distorted concepts, we should identify ourselves as New
Christians. Such a phrase separates itself from the conflicting views
society, and focuses attention back where it should be, back on Christ
revealed will. As long as the name Christian is used indiscriminately,
will continue to be confusion and problems in society. Are you a New
Christian? Do you live as a New Testament Christian?