Vol. 7, No. 6
~ Page 8 ~
[The Mountain Messenger, Volume 2, Numbers 3, March 2005, Crum, WV]
Just because one claims to be something in particular, does not necessarily mean that person is what he claims to be. For instance, here in the Crum, WV area some years ago a man came and claimed to be a doctor. He seemed to have all the necessary documentation, and he set up an office and began seeing patients. He administered medicines, and even gave shots. In fact, he became rather popular among the area folks before he was shown to be a fraud. He had not graduated from medical school, and had not passed the necessary boards in order to practice medicine. He had been a medic in the Navy, and had forged the documents. Needless to say, many folks were surprised and amazed at the revelation of this man's pretense. Not long ago I was talking with some of the older folks about this, and one of them said, "You know, I liked him. He was a really nice guy, and he WAS a good doctor..." Well, the fact is ...HE WAS NO DOCTOR AT ALL!!!! He was only pretending to be one, and defrauding people in this area. No matter how nice and kind he was...no matter if he might have correctly diagnosed someone's illness and treated it properly...he was NOT a doctor, for he had not met the necessary conditions to be one.
Just because one says he is a Christian does not necessarily make it so either. He may be nice and kind. He may even be able to use the Bible to help people live a better life. But, if he has not met the necessary conditions to be a Christian, he simply is not one!
What is the criterion for being a Christian? Is there a "standard" by which we may measure to see if one is what he claims to be? Certainly there is, and it is the New Testament of Jesus Christ. The Bible is right!
One who is a true follower of Jesus the Christ (a Christian) is one who truly believes that Jesus is who he claims to be. Unless one believes that Jesus is the Son of God, the Messiah (Christ) he cannot be a Christian. If he is not a Christian, he will die in his sins and be lost eternally (John 8:24). In fact, no person in this world can please the heavenly Father without accepting Jesus as the Son of God. He said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me" (John 14:6). Notice carefully here, my friends, that our Lord did not say he was A way...A truth...A life... He used the definite article "THE" which excludes all other ways. One cannot follow the Jewish religion and please God, for the Jews do not accept Jesus as Messiah. One cannot be a Moslem and please God, for Mohammed's religion rejects Jesus' claim to be God. One cannot be a Hindu and please God, for these do not accept Jesus as God's Son. The one who pleases God is a Christian, a true follower or disciple of the Meek and Lowly One (Acts 11:26).
Some may object (even some who claim to be Christians) and say, "That's terribly narrow-minded, isn't it?" To this I say, "Yes indeed! It is narrow, for TRUTH is always narrow." 2 + 2 = 4. That is certainly narrow, but it is still true. The Word is truth, and it is this Truth that will judge us in the last day (John 17:17; 12:48; Revelation 20:11-15). The only way to be free from sin is to accept and know the Truth (John 8:31-32).
But, a person is not a Christian simply by believing that Jesus is who he claims to be, for the devils believe this and tremble (James 2:19; compare Mark 5:7). You see, one must be willing to humbly and meekly submit to the Lord's Way, and do what the Lord commands (Matthew 7:21; Luke 6:46; compare James 1:21-25). But some (even some who claim to believe) will not submit, but go about attempting to establish their own way to become righteous (Romans 10:1-3).
The Lord commands all men, everywhere to repent (Acts 2:37-38; 17:30-31; Luke 13:3, 5; 2 Peter 3:9). He commands all to confess him as God's Son (Matthew 10:32-33; Acts 8:37; Romans 10:9-10). He commands those penitent believers who confess with their mouths that he is the Christ, to be baptized into him...into his death...for the remission of their sins (Mark 16:15-16; Acts 2:37-38; Romans 6:3-5). This one who dies in sin, and is buried with Christ in baptism, rises to walk in newness of life. Therefore, he is a Christian, a new creation because he is born again of water and the Spirit (2 Corinthians 5:17; John 3:3-5; 1 Peter 1:22-23).
This person in now a Christian, a person who seeks to conform his life to the Savior. He is not molded according to the world's ways, but is transformed by the renewing of his mind (Romans 12:1-2). He loves God and seeks to worship him in spirit and in truth (John 4:23-24). He is now connected to the True Vine and bears precious fruit for the Lord day by day (John 15:1-8). He abides in the True Vine, and therefore continues in his Word, abides in his doctrine, walks in his light, walks in Truth, walks in his commandments, etc. (2 John 9-11; John 8:31-32; 1 John 1:5-7; 2 John 4, 6, etc.). The Christian loves God and loves Christ, and he shows it by obeying the Lord's commandments (John 14:15; 15:14; 1 John 2:3-5; 5:2-3).
The Christian is one who truly loves his fellow men, and does all he can to reach them with the Gospel of Christ (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16).